The Saatchi Gallery’s new exhibition Paper comes at a time when we are living in an increasingly ‘paperless’ society. We encourage paperless offices, printed newspapers are in decline, communications until very recently documented on paper are now sent by email, and even paper money is steadily diminishing. The temporality of the material has never been more evident.
The 44 international artists in this exhibition challenge our received ideas and expectations about paper as a material and, across a range of media (drawing, collage, sculpture, painting and installation), demonstrate its richness and versatility.
Rachel Adams (UK) drapes remnants of furniture in crinkled, delicate paper to create large sculptural forms reminiscent of the human form when reclining or seated; Nina Katchadourian (US) takes self-portraits in aeroplane toilets in a 15th-century Flemish style, protective paper seats standing in for items of clothing; Rebecca Turner (UK) plays with our ideas of paper as a near-weightless medium with her huge gravity-defying ball of pulp suspended from a wall.
Kura Shomali (Democratic Republic of the Congo) collages snippets of images by celebrated African photographers such as Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé to evoke the chaos of Kinshasa where he lives. Annie Kevans (UK) uses paper in a more traditional way, as the surface for her astonishing paintings of dictators that appear to depict an ideal of innocence.
Éric Manginaud (France) makes life-size drawings of archival photographs taken from the State Care and Medical Facility in Weilmünster, in which Jewish patients were sterilised or starved under the Nazis. Paul Westcombe (UK) creates detailed drawings on paper coffee cups, a surface he began using while working as a car park attendant.
The medium of paper has opened up a vast array of artistic routes for the artists in this exhibition. Its throwaway status allows for powerful and witty inversions of high and low culture and charged references to newspapers, archives and protest posters. Gone may be the days of extensive filing but in the hands of these artists paper, the simplest and most ancient of materials, is vividly alive and physically present.
Artists in Paper
Rachel Adams, Aglaé Bassens, Matthew Brannon, Jason Brinkerhoff, Jodie Carey, Ana Cvorovic, Dawn Clements, Sean Dack, Gerald Davis, Freya Douglas-Morris, Peles Empire, Han Feng, Nicola Frimpong, Ry Fyan, Hilary Harnischfeger, Karen Heagle, Christian Holstad, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Marcelo Jácome, Nina Katchadourian, Annie Kevans, John Kleckner, Douglas Kolk, Miler Lagos, José Lerma & Héctor Madera, Steven Lowery, Eric Manigaud, Dominic McGill, Odires Mlászho, Klaus Mosettig, Tal R, Margot Sanders, Aurel Schmidt, Kura Shomali, Jamie Shovlin, Zak Smith, Yuken Teruya, Storm Tharp, Tom Thayer, Ann Toebbe, Rebecca Turner, Jannis Varelas, Ben Washington, Paul Westcombe, Aaron Wexler, Lisa Wilkens, Silke Schatz
Image: Miler Lagos, Fragmentos del Tiempo (Fragments of the Time) 2012 Piled and carved newspaper 15 ‘branches’; each approx 90-122 cm x 15 cm (diameter)© Miler Lagos. Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London.