Critics’ Picks

Gu Wenda, United Nations – Man and Space, 1999–2000, human hair, white glue, burlap, dimensions variable.


“Post Pop: East Meets West”

Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York's HQ King's Road
November 26 - February 23

While the term post-pop is not nearly as indeterminate as, say, the newly coined idiom post-Internet, this 250-work survey would be difficult to parse without its thematic groupings: habitat; advertising and consumerism; celebrity and mass media; art history; religion and ideology; and sex and the body. The 110 artists from China, Taiwan, the former Soviet Union, the US, and the UK have many commonalities and use similar strategies of the pivotal movement. Gary Hume’s painting Four Coloured Doors, 1989–90, alludes to popular culture with its minimal, schematic, and somewhat cartoony depiction of everyday objects. Keith Haring’s bold, graphic painting Portrait of Macho Camacho, 1985, is an example of his iconic drawing style, imbued with an unaffected and distinctive personality very unlike that of Warhol, his onetime collaborator and more detached forerunner (whose work materializes here in a Mike Bidlo appropriation of a Campbell’s Soup canvas).

The former Soviet Union’s authoritarian government and its investment in socialist realism are prime material for appropriation and satire. Alexander Kosolapov’s Hero, Leader, God, 2007—a bright, red-orange, life-size sculpture of Vladimir Lenin and Jesus Christ holding hands with Mickey Mouse—is of similar ilk to work by Jeff Koons and Paul McCarthy, whose works are also on view. Meanwhile, Gu Wenda’s ethereal room-sized installation United Nations – Man and Space, 1999–2000—human hair and burlap glued together to recreate the flags of countries belonging to the titular intergovernmental organization—has a pronounced wow factor that offsets its overall contemplative essence: a Zen-like aesthetic not normally associated with Pop art.