Go See – Lille, France: ‘La Route de la Soie/ Silk Road: Collection of the Saatchi Gallery’ at Tri Postal through January 23rd, 2011

January 8th, 2011

Subodh Gupta, Spill, 2007, and Still Steal Steel #1, 2007. All photos via Saatchi Gallery unless otherwise noted

For the first time in France, Tri Postal art space presents 60 works by 28 artists from the collection of London’s Saatchi Gallery, showcasing contemporary Chinese, South Asian, and Middle Eastern artists with works in all media.  Dealer Charles Saatchi has been a pioneer in the acquisition of contemporary Asian Art, aptly naming the exhibition after the ancient trade route between Europe and Asia. Tri Postal is located in Lille, a one hour train ride from Paris.

Zhang Huan, Ash Head No. 1, 2007

More text and images after the jump…

The exhibition features artists such as Qui Jie, Subodh Gupta, and Schandra Singh.  One of the most visually arresting pieces, Zhang Huan’s Ash Head No. 1, was created by collecting burnt incense over a steel frame to form a monolithic half-face.  Interested in the relationship between the spiritual and the corporal, Huan’s sculptures take on the look of religious icons, while his performances interrogate the significance of ritual.  This act of repeatedly burning incense sticks refers back to the commentary on religious ritual inherent in the piece, the artist’s practice remaining just as significant as the finished art object.

Subodh Gupta, U.F.O, 2007

Another piece of note is Indian artist Subodh Gupta’s U.F.O.  Gupta is perhaps most famous for his incorporation of everyday objects of Indian life into his sculptures.  These relics of the everyday do not entirely lose their significance once they become material for an art object.  Rather, through his assemblages Gupta attempts to reconcile these traditional, sometimes arcane tools with the new economic growth of his country, and with that a new found materialism.  By titling the work U.F.O, Gupta pokes fun at his status as a foreigner and also emphasizes the foreignness of his materials.

Qiu Jie, Portrait of Mao, 2007. Via Financial Times

La Route de la Soie examines some recurring themes among eastern cultures: the relationship between ancient and modern, the worship of icons, and the emphasis on materiality.  The social relationship between the East and West is also examined, perhaps most whimsically in Qui Jie’s “Portrait of Mao.”  The work shares a title with the iconic Warhol silkscreen of Mao, and, with a cat filling in for the Chairman, mockingly hybridizes ancient Chinese calligraphy, 1960s pop art, and the current culture of celebrity.

Shadi GhadirianLike Everyday Series, 2000-2001

Arif OzakcaUntitled, 2008. Via Financial Times

Kader AttiaGhost, 2007

In 2004 Lille was awarded the annual prize of European Capital of Culture.  The city hosted hundreds of events and exhibitions in honor of the title, which catalyzed the transformation of the Tri Postal from railway station mail sorting office to ambitious art and music venue.  Tri Postal is the first ever contemporary art museum in the city of Lille and it has supported non-western artists since its inception.  In 2007, they presented Bombaysers de Lille, an exhibition showcasing the art of India, and Liquid Frontiers in 2009, which presented contemporary Kazakhstani artists.

-M. Phinney

Related Links:

Exhibition Page [Lille 3000]

Saatchi Gallery [Official site]

The Saatchi Collection’s Silk Road Leads to a Lille Museum [Artinfo]

Jackie Wullschlager reviews Charles Saatchi’s latest exhibitions in Lille and London [Financial Times]