Saatchi Gallery: Out of Focus

The Saatchi Gallery aims to provide an innovative forum for contemporary art, presenting work by largely unseen young artists or by international artists whose work has been rarely or never exhibited in the UK. The Saatchi Gallery is most commonly known for its contemporary art, “Out of Focus” is its first photography show since 2001.

I’ve been dwelling over this blog post for a while now, in fact I’m not even sure that first paragraph is necessary… The Out of Focus photography exhibition, in my opinion, is tricky to express into words. Usually before I write a post about a gallery, exhibition or event, I have a browse through other blogs and professional reviews to see what others thought about the occasion. It’s always interesting to see how your view correlates with others.

Alas, gleaming in the new found sunlight shining over London, The Saatchi Gallery hosts a triumphant exhibition of iconic and new photography.

Spanning four floors of the gallery, Out of Focus has something to suit all tastes. Familiar name, John Stezaker, who is famed for his portrait collages, (which also had a solo show at The Whitechapel Gallery in 2011) takes a significant role in the show, while other photography collagist Sohei Nishino’s city landscapes of New York, Tokyo and Paris offer a more refreshing viewing.

British artist John Stezaker is fascinated by the lure of images. Taking classic movie stills, vintage postcards and book illustrations, Stezaker makes collages to give old images a new meaning. 

According to the art critics out there, on the face of it Out of Focus is not a promising name for an exhibition of photographs. But happily the show is at the Saatchi Gallery, which means that Out of Focus is contemporary, which means that the title is an in-joke. I can see their point, once upon a time, photography was an orderly discipline, mechanically driven but now, in the 21st century, digital technology and Adobe Photoshop mean that anyone can do pretty much anything, photo-wise.

The thing I loved most about Out of Focus, was that it doesn’t pretend to be a survey of contemporary photography. Thirty-eight artists from fourteen countries that work stands outside the mainstream, and mingles beauty with politics, hedonism and mystery, analogue and digital processing. Rather than offering an overview, the exhibition simply demonstrates Charles Saatchi’s eclectic taste and the huge variety of  mediums is being used, throwing out the rule book meaning anything goes. In my opinion, this is great! I wasn’t bored by one particular genre of photography, each room offered a different perspective to an artists take of Out of Focus.

Coinciding with the main exhibition is the finalists exhibition for the Google photography prize, an international competition for students to submit up to eight shots in a specified category of their choice. The ten finalists work is displayed for the duration of the Out of Focus show, and demonstrates a similar mix of varied subject matters and approaches to photography. The overall prize went to Viktor Johansson, a student at the Swedish photography school, Nordens Fotoskola Biskops-Arno, for his series of ‘arresting and unexpected’ shots of Swedish diver Christoffer Eskilsson in training, which was on show alongside the other finalists.

A mistake from a ten-meter jump can cause serious damage. Though performed elegantly and swift its a rush like no other.

Everyday weekday from seven to lunch, and from lunch to dinnertime Christoffer is in eriksdalsbadet constantly diving and training. He is the only diving swede that is supported by the Swedish Olympic committee.

The Venue

ADDRESS – Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY

DATES– 25 April to 15 July 2012

OPENING TIMES– 10am-6pm, 7 days a week, last entry 5:30pm


TWITTER – @saatchi_gallery

Admission is free to all exhibitions.