The second instalment of Saatchi’s mega show Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America opened with a bang last Tuesday evening at the private view. Having seen Pangaea I last November, I was eager to see what Mr Saatchi had been saving for the finale of his all-embracing and enlightening show of art from the vast supercontinent.
Upon entering the swish, pillared entrance of the gallery, to the left of me something bright and glaringly blue caught my eye. Jean-François Boclé’s Tout Doit Disparaître!/Everything Must Go! (2014) exists as an ocean-like plinth in the centre of the first lower galleries. Manifested from 97,000 blue plastic bags, Boclé’s work challenges viewers with its vastness and its obvious comment on contemporary culture’s obsession with commodities. The floating blue mass brings an unavoidable realisation to viewers of the work, reminding us of the mammoth wastelands humans create across the world, many of them drifting like small islands in the middle of the ocean. This playful work is both visually appealing and informative, however it does pose problems in the space when several bags come loose and attach themselves to viewer’s feet – precisely what happened during the exhibition’s opening evening. Nonetheless, Boclé’s work introduces Pangaea II with a taste of chutzpah, leaving me hungry for more.
Federico Herrero’s paintings would not appeal to those suffering from chromophobia. His energetic and exotic works dance over the white walls of Saatchi, bringing a bizarre tropical atmosphere to the usually grey and cloudy Kings Road. Each abstract work consists of sporadic geometric landscapes, which encase vibrant, individual colours within curve-cornered squares and smooth, elongated rectangles. Herrero’s fantastical wall works illuminate the gallery with a culture undoubtedly far removed from our own, allowing us to look into a kaleidoscopic keyhole of Latin American urban culture.
Jorge Mayet’s delicate mini-sculptures of imaginary trees have an Alice-in-Wonderland effect on the gallery and its audience. Stooped and mystified by the floating installations, viewers gather around the works in awe, attempting to figure out the work and its journey from studio to gallery. Mayet’s sculptures are in fact made from electrical wire, paper, acrylics and fabric, despite looking like real, dwarfed trees. The artist’s astonishing ability to create manmade replicas of Mother Nature serves to emphasise his hyperrealist artistic practice and the existential plane it creates.
Another artist whose work I came to admire fiercely in Pangaea II was Aboudia. Aboudia’s chromatic canvases depict abstract portraits of individuals affected by their troubled and chaotic country of birth – The Ivory Coast in West Africa. The dark scenery and often morbid narrative is contrasted with Aboudia’s use of brightly coloured paints depicting daily urban life in West Africa. These works stood out magnificently in the gallery space, hanging in a salon-style which encouraged viewers direction of gaze, dotting from one to the next greedy for more.
In conclusion, Pangaea II is a new and exciting exhibition bringing unseen work to London on a vast scale. This exhibition, along with the first instalment, finally sheds some well-needed light on contemporary art from Africa and Latin America, both continents ‘hot right now’ in terms of the wider, global art market – something Saatchi has a continuous talent in identifying.