Post Pop: East Meets West

Soviet countries are very different from most democracies. Since the introduction of Glasnost, communist countries began accepting an interest to move away from closed-door activities and aim for more transparency instead. Effective from the eighties onwards, this policy shift reflects on an advocacy of freedom of speech, so if a traveller from these countries came to Europe, they would find too many missing links in their pattern of understanding for cultures. The only thing common would be captivating images from bookshops, billboards, church buildings and statuesque architectures, and perhaps the people behind the work. Post-glasnost, it became alright for a person to have their own unique ideas – no, more getting dictated by the government on how to do things. But this was new – in the West, people thought for themselves, since the beginning of time.

Some artists from the East invoked this into their paintings, prioritising the documenting of times through powerful stop-motion imagery, or pop-art inspired arts. Post Pop: East Meets West at the Saatchi Gallery is hosting 250 works, spanning three decades, since Andy Warhol emerged as the new ‘Greek God’ of colour and comics. Sectioned into six themes: Habitat, Advertising and Consumerism, Celebrity and Mass Media, Religion and Ideology, and Sex and the Body, and Art History, you will see work as diverse as those from Russia, China, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States.

Popular Chinese rebel artist, Ai Weiwei has exhibited a white sofa, made to resemble a Chinese tufted armchair, sporting a marble cast, and there is, finally, the thought-provoking symbolism from Richard Woods, who makes you think with his diagrams – should you really cut down trees and go environmentally friendly with ‘natural’ furniture? Is that really any way to communicate your enthusiasm publicly for plants and a more eco-friendly country? There is also the very-cool Jeff Koons installed basketballs, with their brilliant Spalding logos, and what seems to me an interesting blend of elements in the carved wood-toast slices from Anatoly Osmolovsky.

The prospect of having to stare at 12 shrouded (hooded?) figurines worshipping at this altar of wood-bread, makes you wonder, where the artist is going with this, doesn’t it? Is it meant to be tragic? Is it meant to be fearful? Is it meant to relate to you psychologically? Or should we look at it like its some contained form of an absolution, where it seems alright to worship something you can never eat or taste? Would that transpire as a sin? Or would it transpire as a dramatic narration of a person’s wholehearted wish of worshiping a food you cannot touch to eat? It  made me ponder over the underlying currents of aftereffects that often came and filled the hole, the large gap left behind by Warhol’s shadow.

There is an increasing reproduction of this fragmented ‘scary factor’, what if it were all to go down sculpturally and try to extinguish the work of the generations past, and stop inspiring the footsteps of the future? There is no beauty in short-lived stories, not short stories, just abrupt stories, but there can never be too much of a fandom for Andy Warhol, can there? A short story is important, it lives to see the end of the pop-art and the gluttony for punishment, it cannot help but be drawn towards, because of their own failures at conceptualising – their cultures, might have pushed them towards a lack of knowledge but it is the price of indifference to their own cultures, that is costly. It would have been amazing to see someone at least, identify with Communist culture and want to share it with us, on our shores, in a perfectly regal, modern atmosphere!


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