A Walk In Kaleidoscope And Arctic Devastation At Saatchi Gallery

Kaleidoscope / Carmignac, Saatchi Gallery ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 19 months ago

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A Walk In Kaleidoscope And Arctic Devastation At Saatchi Gallery Kaleidoscope / Carmignac, Saatchi Gallery 4
© Laura Buckley, 2012. Image courtesy of Saatchi Gallery,London

Before us stands a silvery hexagonal cave. We kick off our shoes and step carefully inside on to the flexing surface. We're assaulted on all sides by our reflection coupled with pictures and sounds from the memories or artist Laura Buckley, the creator of this piece. The surroundings range from hypnotic swirls to the sound's of the artists daughter when she was two years old.

This walk-in kaleidoscope is the biggest and boldest of the works in a new Saatchi Gallery exhibition aptly titled Kaleidoscope. Unfortunately the rest of the works just aren't able to measure up to the impact of this one colossal installation.

We like these paintings by Whitney Bedford but the unifying theme of the show is very loose. © Whitney Bedford, 2005. Image courtesy of Saatchi Gallery, London

Aside from that behemoth the rest of the show is mostly populated by paintings and it's here where the kaleidoscopic theme unravels. What do paintings of interiors have to do with the rest of the show? Is it just padding to fill empty space?

One set of paintings that stands out are by Whitney Bedford of ships being destroyed by waves, alongside high speed photographs by Pierre Carreau of waves where they appear unnaturally still. They are taut with drama even if they have nothing to do with the rest of the show. Perhaps only Charles Saatchi himself knows why these works are here.

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Yamal Peninsula April 2018 © Yuri Kozyrev / NOOR for Fondation Carmignac

Thankfully upstairs is home to a more cohesive and completely separate photography exhibition. The Carmignac Photojournalism award has this year been awarded to Yuri Kozyrev and Kadir van Lohuizen for their fantastic documentation of life in the Arctic.

These stunning photographs document life in the Arctic — from a welder operating in what appears to be an inhospitably cold and hostile climate to a reindeer herder leading his charges on a migration.

Understandably climate change features heavily including retreating glaciers and the impacts of the oil and gas industry in this area. An icebreaker carves a path for a tanker, but left behind zigzagging across the ice there's a scar on the serene landscape.

Some of the other works don't even feel like they belong on this planet, such as the natural phenomenon that's referred to locally as 'the door to the underworld' — it looks like some giant creature has ripped up the earth.

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Kaleidoscope & Carmignac Photojournalism Award - Arctic: New Frontier are both on at Saatchi Gallery until 5 May. Both exhibitions are free but access to the walk in kaleidoscope requires purchasing an exhibition guide (£2).

The Carmignac Photojournalism Award funds annually the production of an investigative photo reportage on human rights violations, geostrategic and environmental issues in the world.

Last Updated 15 March 2019