Out of Focus and Other Metamorphosis at Saatchi Gallery

Corona by Mat Collishaw

When it comes to art, London offers unlimited possibilities. However, there is an ageless question. What to call art? Apparently, every person has his/her own definition of this term. For some people it is a classical painting of the 18th century, for others… any high-priced object put behind the glass.

I know, that google is probably not the most reliable source, but certainly the most commonly recognised, so, let’s ask…


  • The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,…: “the art of the Renaissance”
  • Works produced by such skill and imagination.

But, if to think of it this way, cannot it be applied to every single object? Does it mean that I can take any unnecessary trash from my house, and transform it into a piece of art? Apparently, yes…



Modern art is the most controversial subject, that causes a lot of disputes. While some find it a source of inspiration and deep philosophical thoughts, others can hardly get any essence. Personally I don’t mind modern art, and at times I can even find it beautiful, as long as it is reaching the limits of one’s common sence. However, I will never be able to understand for example, how is it possible to give thousands of pounds for a Damien Hirst’s coloured circles, which, actually, wasn’t even made by himself.

The latest exhibition in Saatchi Gallery “Out of Focus” is offering you another challenge. Although, I would never have a slightest desire to put it on any wall in my house, I can find the hidden irony in these incredibly ugly pieces of someone’s self-expression.


Probably, the most prominent row of pictures belongs to  Katy Grannan, who carefully collected a brilliant selection of extremely colourful individuals from California, and claimed each of them has their own unique faith and character. It is hard to argue. All of them are definitely unique, and, nevertheless, united by the same desire to be pitifully extravagant, which went far beyond the limits. While every person has the right to transform his face and body in whatever comes to his mind, sometimes it is difficult to look at it without shrugging. The majority of her portraits are depicting old people, wearing weird, funky or old-fashioned clothes. And the moral? Is it “break the stereotypes!”, “fight to be different!” or “don’t look ridiculous after 40!”?. Every man decides for himself.








Michele Abeles went even further and proved that human nudity can be pretty ugly, as if it wasn’t already clear enough before that. I have to give him some credit in this, since the modern media is feeding us with massive amounts of glamorous pornography, so that we actually forget that people are not perfect, and even the most beautiful body can look horrible, when put “out of focus”.


A big part of the gallery was devoted to John Stezaker’s works. He took some old black and white images, cropped it in halves, and joined it together, so that it would look more or less aligned. Interestingly enough, he was quite careless about his selection. A man’s face was joined perfectly with a woman’s. It is still unclear for me what he wanted to say with it, but at least it is more pleasant to look at than the alternatives hanging in other halls.

Coupling male and female identity into unified characters, Stezaker points to a disjointed harmony, where the irreconciliation of difference both complements and detracts from the whole. In his correlated images, personalities (and our idealisations of them) become ancillary and empty, rendered abject through their magnified flaws and struggle for visual dominance. (source)





One of the most interesting and skilful works in the exhibition to my mind was presented by Phoebe Rudomino. It gives me a real aesthetic pleasure to look at a young woman in white diving in the spacious and nicely decorated room. It stirs my imagination by making me think of possible philosophical contexts. It looks like a fantasy, like a surreal dream.


In contrast, Mat Collishaw’s “Corona”, set as featured image for this post, is just disgusting to my eye. I absolutely  fail to find any beauty in torturing animals.

To round-up, ugly, or beautiful this exhibition is worth seeing. Every man has the right for his own opinion, and if you see things differently, feel free to discourage me from my conservative way of thinking.

For more information visit: http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/photography/


Text and images Copyright © 2012 Unordinary Customer. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Out of Focus and Other Metamorphosis at Saatchi Gallery”
  1. vilks12 says:

    I’m not sure that I like the pictures, but I do like the questions you ask to yourself and to each other ! 🙂

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