Iconoclasts: Art Out of the Mainstream (Exhibition)

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On October 12, 2017
Last modified:December 26, 2023


The Saatchi Gallery has been at the vanguard of cometlike young experimental upstarts since the Young British Artists (YBAs) of the Nineties and is inextricably linked to the genesis of art superstars such as Hirst and Emin. Well circa 2017 and it’s a trend that continues with these thirteen artists who claim to be iconoclasts ready to overthrow the established order.

There are no recognisable stylistic ties bunching together these Young Turks: Maurizio Anzeri, Matthew Chambers, Daniel Crews-Chubb, Josh Faught, Aaron Fowler, Danny Fox, Makido Kudo, Dale Lewis, Thomas Mailaender, Kate MccGwire, Rennee So, Douglas White and Alex Williams Wynn. The ‘Iconoclasts’ umbrella title is shrug-worthy in an age where a revolutionary spirit is nothing new in contemporary art. However, here the hallowed relationship between canvas and exhibition space has several noteworthy fissure points. So more iconic than iconoclastic, perhaps.

Danny Fox’s eye-catching faux-naïve paintings are not original within the genre but the equivocal energy of the brushstrokes and downbeat palette dressed up as bright, have elements that are. Your five-year-old could probably draw the chalk Stetson worn by the central figure in Ice Cream Seller 2016 (acrylic on canvas) but would fail miserably in other areas of colour composition and metaphor. Much use of hard, angular lines and his work has the feel of half-finished murals. Some of them speak of the working lives of a Central or South American rural or blue-collar community, He paints pleasant smiles despite the unspoken economic reality in their lives. His use of the colour yellow indicates the searing climes of this unidentified country (many brown-skinned figures) and is a mood element.

Ice Cream Seller 2016 (acrylic on canvas)

Another artist to look out for is Daniel Crews-Chubb. Using a mixture of oil, acrylic, spray paint, charcoal pumice gel, pen, cardboard and collaged fabrics he produces figures lost in the powerful swirls of abstraction that make up his remarkable canvases. There’s a muddy, workmanlike element throughout; palette, intensity and brush stroke direction setting him apart from the other Iconoclasts. Look closely and you can identify the subtle balance of the muddied oranges in disparate corners of his canvases acting as centring and framing devices. What looks accidental and experimental is often the work of a talented artist harmonising chaotic elements.

Iconoclasts: Art Out of the Mainstream, Saatchi Gallery, Kings Rd, London SW3 4RY, Oct 12 2017 – Jan 7 2018


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About the author /

Eddie Saint-Jean is a London writer and editor whose editorials cover arts, culture, entertainment, food/drink, local history and heritage.

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