African & Latin American Art @ Saatchi


Giant ants and sacks cover the walls of the latest exhibition at Saatchi Gallery. Pangea was the land mass that once united Africa and Latin America, whose contemporary art now shares a stage at the Chelsea gallery.

As always, with Saatchi Gallery, the show is a mixed bag. There is a lot to see across many different media and styles. We are first presented with a white room, completely empty save for the fact that the walls are covered in dozens of giant ants. These ants appeal spectacular and fun. However, it is after meeting them that I learnt that the Colombian artist who created them, Rafael Comezbarros, used the ants as a metaphor for the unfortunate situation of the worlds asylum seekers. I have also found out that the ants form are constructed from two casts of human skulls that have been bound together with cloth like bandages and then given legs made out of sticks from trees. I almost wish I hadn’t read up on the installation now. Ignorance certainly is bliss. Although, I am choosing to go along with Roland Barthes ‘death of the author’, because I found them to be most entertaining.

One ENORMOUS room of the gallery, with a dramatically high ceiling has again been left bare apart from eye-catching decoration. This time, the walls have been covered from floor to ceiling in coal sacks by Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama. It was certainly a haunting experience being in this room, particularly when it was just myself, however, I am not quite sure what the significance was meant to be. The lack of wall text at Saatchi did not do the exhibition any favours here.

Also on display are abstract paintings, sculpture, installation and photographs. Too much to really go into detail of everything. The work on display is diverse, being made by sixteen artists. I vaguely remember the marble white sculpture of nude women being of interest, as well as photographs of children holding western barbie dolls with others carrying the crucifix as though in procession.

With so much on offer you have to pop in, even if it is just to take a quick peak at the giant ants!

Pangea: New Art from Africa and Latin America is on display at Saatchi Gallery until 31 August

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN 2018 (London).

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