Known Unknowns. The complexity of the sense

Known Unknowns. The complexity of the sense

The exhibition Known Unknowns, at the Saatchi Gallery in London, proposes an intense, deep, violent and furious art. Seventeen artists present works that consult us in clear way on our time, on the spell of an oscillating and unstable contemporaneity. 

We feel tension and restlessness, there is nothing of accomodating and calm.  A show that dares, pushes, asks, without fear. Many of the artists use the figuration in uninhibited and sincere way, without seeking any protective and discounted Mannerism, but above all they face important and complexe themes.

They speak of sexuality, spirituality, politics and digitalization. These fields are universes to explore with attention. There is the idea of a continuous and rapid transformation, the feeling of a constant investigation. The artists sail toward distant galaxies.

Stefanie Heinze makes big fleshy paintings in which all is mixed: men, animals, pieces of body and vegetables, remains of figures ready to liquefy. We can see an indistinct world in an ocean of colours. The elephant always appears, the sacred animal, symbol of a lost unity, legacy of a need of myth suppressed too much quickly. Tom Anholt travels through time and religion. In The Lion’s second dream the lion dreams a sleeping man in the middle of a great mountain. Two thin and delicate trees frame the scene. It seems to be in the heart of the world. Perhaps all the things come from here. Over the mountain, decorated and colored, in a dreamy and persian dimension, we see a sea of blue, yellow, green, red and black lines. Above the sea there is a starry and pure sky. It is the primordial dawn, the beginning of the beginnings, coming from a dream, the primary creative action.

Maria Farrar‘s research unites two ways of seeing the world: the oriental vision and the western one. In her works there is the coagulation of the delicate lightness of the Japanese calligraphy and the deep chromatic heaviness of the western art. The painting Wave gives off an intense expressive strength, unusual and powerful. In the blue deep ocean there are black signs very similar to Van Gogh’s crows, between the sky and the sea a brushstroke of white becomes a cloud. An orange life belt signals the presence of a boat in the middle of the storm. The atmosphere is tense and threatening but the painting maintains a great formal composure. It seems that also in the heart of the chaos all proceeds with absolute certainty.

In the exhibition the theme of the body is often present. A body that desires and transforms, creates and destroys identities. In Tamuna Sirbiladze‘s works the female figure is represented through a primitivism very intense, during moments of intimacy that show a deep eroticism. In Map 4 – Got Too Much LA Sun a sensual woman is in a libidinous pose, burnt by the sun, on the hot beach. The red hair is loose, the body is purplish and it is melting. The limbs are confused with the landscape.

It seems to assist to a passionate coitus between the woman and the nature. A work that instills delight. Kirstine Roepstorff‘s collages create unique and peculiar worlds. In You are being lied to a golf course becomes the stage of a surreal narration. Butterflies and small airplanes fly among the trees, workers dig holes in the ground, marching battalions emerge out of the bushes, three skeletons quietly walk on the lawn, next to them a man with angelic wings observes the situation. The artist gets an extraordinary equilibrium in the composition of the work, despite the boundless difference of the behaviors assumed by the characters. We can feel all the complexity of the contemporary life, so deeply virtual and digital, where ways of life infinitely different stay together. Perhaps, at first sight, our world appears disjointed and unbalanced, but if we put ourselves at the right distance we can notice its sense. It is exactly this complexity of the sense, difficult and marvelous, that the exhibition Known Unknowns wants to show us.

Artists: Mona Osman, Stefanie Heinze, Francesca Dimattio, Rannva Kunoy, Ben Schumacher, Tom Anholt, Maria Farrar, Isobel Smith, Tamuna Sirbiladze, Chris Hood, Bedwyr Williams, Jill McKnight, Kirstine Roepstorff, Alida Cervantes, Stuart Middleton, Theo Ellison, Saskia Olde Wolbers.

Andrea Grotteschi


21 March – 24 June 2018
Monday- Sunday H. 10:00 – 18:00
Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York’s HQ
King’s Road

Tom  Anholt  The Lion’s Second Dream, 2017 Oil on collaged linen 130 x 190 cm © Tom Anholt, 2017 Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

Maria Farrar Saving My Parents From Drowning in the Shimonoseki Straits, 2016 Oil on linen 180 x 302 cm © Maria Farrar, 2016 Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

Kirstine Roepstorff Hidden Truth, 2002 Paper, glitter, pearls, sequins, paint, on wallpaper, collage, mounted on 4 aluminium panels 274 x 388 cm © Kirstine Roepstorff, 2002 Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

Stefanie Heinze Ain’t St.Nobody, 2014 Acrylic and oil on canvas 360 x 450 cm © Stefanie Heinze, 2014 Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London


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