Saatchi Gallery

Mequitta Ahuja

Autobiographical, these paintings have a very shamanic feel to me and I particularly like the use of the colours Cobalt Blue, Saturated Crimsons and Golden Ambers. A re-created identity, isn’t that what we all do when we face the outside world. We paint on a mask that people have to get past to get close to us. I feel these images represent freedom and “This is Me” and feel a strong affinity to these pieces, perhaps because I am currently trying to mix personal identity and cultural identity in my own practice.

Cobalt blues, saturated crimsons, and golden ambers provide the ground for a cohort of fantastical figures in the canvases of artist Mequitta Ahuja. To enter a room of her work is to enter a very personal cosmology in which Ahuja fluently appropriates ancient works of myth and legend, such as the 15th century Persian manuscript The Hamzanama and Hindu miniature paintings.

These sources are woven into a pictorial style that is both autobiographical and trans-cultural; the figures are often self-portraits rendered in a process she names autocartography. The richness of her visual language vividly conveys her personal conviction that identity is ours to fabricate. Of primary concern to me is the agency we have to self-invent and self-represent… creative processes that are necessarily bricolage. We draw on personal and cultural history as well as our creative imaginations.

Ansel Krut

I like the geometric shapes and angles found in the work of Ansel Krut and the use of juxtaposition which has always confounded me, although I am trying to gain a better understanding of juxtaposition.

The piece Mussels is very like a picture that I painted last year for Introductory Subject Studies (ARF 402), the painting with the eyes in it in a similar but different way. I don’t remember ever seeing Mussels before, but perhaps I had seen it subconsciously somewhere.

Ansel Krut graduated with an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art in 1986, after which he was awarded the Abbey Major scholarship to the British School in Rome. He attended the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (1982-1983), and completed his BA in Fine Art at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (1979-1982).

Krut’s technique is to construct the surfaces of his canvases with layers of colourful paint. There is a strong relationship to the structure of drawing and use of flattened pictorial space. Each canvas carries a particular and spirited character: fans, vortexes, geometric angles, dynamic and judiciously suggestive organic shapes recur throughout his compositions, revealing an abstracted, abjectportraiture.

“I try to create strange juxtapositions in my work, to build a kind of contradiction in pictures. Head With Bottles is about having a hangover. I don’t drink but on the odd occasion when I do it goes straight to my head, so here I’ve painted alcohol being poured directly into someone’s brain. The colourful strands are the hair, but also the contents of the bottles and brain leaking out. They look like fingers running along the bottom of the canvas. I like these because they introduce a strange possibility of movement. All of my works create a series of conflicting or paradoxical expectations, and this includes the tradition of picture painting. I draw from both classical portraiture and cartooning to reconcile these traditions. I see cartooning as the same as any other art historical genre. I like the direct flatness that facilitates the immediate understanding of something.”

Bjarne Melgaard

First Impressions, Shocking, Controversial and in your face. After reading a bit more about this artist, I can understand where his influence is coming from. Brave pieces of work in my opinion. This artist shows that it’s okay to take risks.

Melgaard was born in Sydney to Norwegian parents, raised in Oslo, Norway, and works and lives in New York.[3] Early in his career Melgaard created controversial installations referencing subversive subcultures such as S&M and heavy metal music.[4] Currently, his practice consists of an emphasis on expressionisticpaintings and drawings, often containing text.[5]

Melgaard studied at the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts, Rijksakademie in Amsterdam from 1991 to 1992 and at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht from 1992 to 1993.

His first show in New York was in 2000, where he exhibited sculptures of apes engaged in sex acts.[2] Melgaard moved permanently to New York in 2009.[2]

In January 2014 his fibreglass artwork, Chair, sparked controversy when a picture was published of it on a fashion website. The chair appeared to be a black woman on her back with the seat cushion supported on her thighs. Magazine owner Dasha Zhukova (who is white) was pictured sitting on the cushion. After angry accusations of racism the picture was withdrawn. Melgaard has created it as a reinterpretation of a similar chair by British pop artist Allen Jones, and intended it to be a comment on gender and racial politics.[6][7] Gallery director Steven Pollock said “Acceptance is not the goal and he doesn’t subscribe to the European politically correct attitude of placating cultural expectations. He’s certainly not racist, and used to have a black boyfriend.”[2]


I can relate to the confessional quality of the text in his paintings and perhaps there is a similarity here that I can explore further. He’s trying to get at something, and Helen observed that I’m trying to make a point or a statement – definitely food for thought here where I would not have imagined it.

His expressionistic paintings incorporate texts that have a confessional quality, revealing desires, fears, violence, personal anxieties, drug-taking, and sex, though whether these relate to a fictional or real persona is left ambiguous. “Melgaard’s art comes across as something much closer to need itself, something manically important he’s trying to get at,”

David Brian Smith

I definitely felt part of the scene whilsts viewing this life-size painting. I like the colours and find these akin to the rose coloured spectacles my husband says I wear all the time.

Another representation of an autobiographical artwork – definitely one’s own life and experience can serve as a source of inspiration for artwork.

“I come from a farming background, in Shropshire, where my father was a shepherd,” David Brian Smith explains. “My mother found the picture of the Shepherd tending his flock in a newspaper from the 1930s. I’ve made several paintings from this image and have enjoyed using the subject of the shepherd because of my autobiographical relationship with it. I use the image to jump between different styles of painting and arrive at new ones. At first I was concerned about repeating the use of the shepherd, but there are so many possible variations of the image that I can explore. Each time I can reinvent the space, light and palette within the picture. I paint on herringbone linen because of its association to rural heritage, to flat caps and tweed jackets. I work on one canvas at a time, and this allows me to delve into and create a world around me. The life-sized scale is important, it makes me feel like part of the scene I’m painting, I hope the viewer has a similar experience.”

Raffi Kalenderian

A sense of colonialism from these pieces and day to day living in another country or even era. Using dark colours he creates an imposing atmosphere that leaves me feeling burdened and quite depressed. What can I learn from these pieces?

What can I learn from these pieces?

Anything can become an subject or topic for a piece of art and certainly daily life is something that we can all relate too.

Born in Los Angeles 1981, Lives and works in Los Angeles.

A hairy man in leaf-patterned shorts sits on a yellow chair in front of a garden wall. In the background looms a thick green tangle of plants. A little way off, a barefooted woman also sits on a chair, one hand in her lap. She looks over at him. He looks at a dog that strikes a fighting pose on the lawn. Each seems to be waiting for the other to make a move. These two individuals and their pet are introduced to us in the title of this work as Shio, Jonas, Robot (Outside) (2008). In recent years, as well as paintings on canvas, Raffi Kalenderian has produced a series of works on paper using watercolours, graphite and coloured pencils, sometimes combined in collages with found photocopied material. Most of Kalenderian”s protagonists are depicted in full-length portraits in domestic settings, the works” titles giving us their first names only. In shimmering colours, attractively decorated private rooms and lush front gardens offer glimpses of household interiors or studios. But the works in this exhibition, titled “Satellites”, never offer a wider view to the horizon or out into a cityscape. Instead, Kalenderian”s backgrounds present an almost claustrophobic closure. This is due primarily to a simple visual trick that reinforces a “faulty” perspective: at times, things our perception would register as being further away are shown at the same scale as motifs in the foreground. As a result, background spaces are reduced to a two-dimensional “curtain” and the figures appear as though placed in front of sumptuous drapery or stock backdrop in a portrait studio. Most of these backdrops are fully developed, but some are merely sketched out in neon colours.

Aleksandra Mir

I loved this room and the fact that the artist had used a simple mark-making tool, an everyday marker pen to create these pieces. I felt a similarity almost to the magazine proofs I had created in the Dada Punk induction piece.

Retro text and motifs evoking idealist 1960s Americana such as the draft, the baby boom, Civil War, road trips, the space race, the Bicentennial, love and God were sketched by Mir overnight and filled in by her helpers working in shifts each day and evening using black Sharpie felt tips pens. The process of collaboration, and the use of atypical materials – in this case a humble household marker pen – are similarly integral to the artist’s working practice.

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