Jonathan Jones doesn’t think much of Charles Saatchi’s desire to be a reality show star, even if Saatchi is going to keep his mouth shut:
The show will “attempt to discover the next Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin.” Well, I don’t suppose anyone would expect it to discover the next Cy Twombly or Jasper Johns. [ . . . ]
Does anything that happens in a reality talent show matter? What are you saying about art by becoming involved in such nonsense?
It’s of a piece with the desperate inclusiveness of Saatchi’s online activities, and the staggering, yet boring, plurality of British art now. “Everyone an artist”, said Joseph Beuys, and in Britain this seems to have come true. Or, as Rupert Pupkin put it in Martin Scorsese’s prophetic film The King of Comedy, you can have anything you want, so long as you’re prepared to pay the price. We can all be artists so long as we’re prepared to forget the idea that art has any worth or meaning.
Yet, at the same time, the Times of London praises his new show of art from the Middle East:
Yet however combustible it may turn out to be, Saatchi has good reason to put on this top-notch survey of Middle Eastern contemporary art. News of the Middle East today is dominated by images and reports of death and destruction, of terrorists and refugees, and the human misery caused by long-held political and religious antagonism. This widespread conflict overshadowing the region has tended to obscure the remarkably vibrant contemporary art scene that is alive and well in the countries of the Middle East and its diaspora. [ . . . ]
In its second show since moving to the King’s Road, the Saatchi Gallery offers us a major survey of recent Middle Eastern painting, sculpture and installation. Nineteen artists are represented, most of them in their twenties and thirties, from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria and Algeria, and their works reveal something of the range of their experiences and of the cultural and historical traditions of their homelands.[ . . . ]
This is a richly fascinating survey and anyone with an interest in the region, at any level, would do well to take a look at these revelatory views from the inside.
Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East at Saatchi Gallery (Times of London)