What does the word ‘icon’ mean to you? You may naturally think of your personal heroes when this title is heard – the Beyoncés, the Kardashians, or even – god forbid – the Trumps of the world. Alternatively, you may find yourself in the midst of the official definition – contemplating on the various religious saviours and their influence, for better or worse, on individuals and society. Or, like the autocorrect on my computer, you may decide that I was trying to write the word Akon, and indeed render the word meaningless. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
When it comes to the Saatchi Gallery however, the title of ‘icon’ is being challenged on a number of fronts; their exhibition ‘ICONOCLASTS: Art out of the Mainstream’ celebrates artists who seek the lost quality of fighting the status quo. The show is set to explore thirteen artists whose practices naturally fall within the realms of ‘the unusual’, their individual works pushing against the somewhat cherished ideals of artistic production.
Within this myriad of ‘defiers’, you’ll find the likes of French artist Thomas Mailaender, who’s artworks dabble in replacing found images onto human flesh – each dermal collage offering a conflicting reaction of pained humour. Alongside this, you will also find the intricate stitchings of Italian-British artist Maurizio Anzeri; the two traditional arts of fishing net repair and the 2D image being delicately spliced together despite the unlikely partnership.
This splicing of traditional technique with contemporary ideals is also present in the works of Dale Lewis, a 2006 graduate of the Brighton MA Fine Art course. Lewis produces large-scale paintings from his own memory and experiences, the recognisable scenes depicting the chaos of everyday life within the styles of Lowry, or even medieval tapestries.
Amongst the artists mentioned above, the exhibition also features the work of Matthew Chambers, Daniel Crews-Chubb, Josh Faught, Aaron Fowler, Danny Fox, Makiko Kudo, Kate MccGwire, Renee So, Douglas White and Alexi Williams-Wynn.
Despite this endless barrage of the ‘unlikely’, there is the ever current theme of deconstruction; each practitioner celebrating their difference to the arts in its traditional sense.
Now you may be thinking ‘isn’t avant-garde dead nowadays? Surely it’s all been done before?’ And you’d be quite right in your questioning. The difference here is that ICONOCLASTS does not shy away from that fact, acknowledging our current flow of the ‘fad’ and our obsessions with short lived, fast-paced gratification. As the press release states: ‘while the group cannot be described as iconoclasts in the traditional sense of the word, they are all driven by an iconoclastic urge’ to rattle the cage of mundanity with a sense of intrigue – and that in itself is worth celebrating.
Iconoclasts: Art out of the Mainstream opens at The Saatchi Gallery, London on the 27th of September until the 7th of January 2018. Entry to the exhibition is free.