‘Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America’ at the Saatchi Gallery

‘Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America’ at the Saatchi Gallery
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Saatchi’s latest international blockbuster stakes out sixteen artists across two of the world’s largest continents. Its big-claim title ‘Pangaea’ – the prehistoric supercontinent that once joined Africa and America in the Paleozoic era over 200 million years ago – pronounces that Saatchi is ‘reuniting the two former sister continents’. For sheer impact, Rafael Gomezbarros’ skin-crawling infestation of giant ants in Gallery 1 is a stand out feature. Named Casa Tomada, it involves a division of an army of fibreglass ants cast from human skulls. Symbolising populations displaced by conflict, they have also swarmed the facades of a number of national buildings and monuments in his native Columbia.

Gallery 10 has been transformed into an atmospheric and musty cocoon by Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama’s jute sacks lining its walls. A commentary on supply and demand in African markets, the sacks carry markings of materials, traders and international ports. Benin-based photographer Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou’s alluring series Demoiselles de Porto-Novo presents a stimulating commentary on Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon with masked topless women in opulent colonial settings. Whilst South African Dillon Marsh offers a moment of beguiling stillness in his photographic series of mysterious haystacks creeping up telegraph poles – which turn out to be the nests of weaver birds in the Kalahari Desert.

The much talked about artist currently disrupting the hierarchies of high and low art (and everything in between), Oscar Murillo, has marked the gallery’s pristine white walls with a dirty, beaten up basketball. It entices you to kick it too, though you’d probably just get told off.

With a mixed bag of international superstars and emerging talents, the exhibition celebrates and explores the parallels between these diverse cultures and their creative practices. Subjects of colonial rule, rapid urban growth, migration, displacement and political and economic unrest come part and parcel.

‘Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America’ at the Saatchi Gallery, 2 April until 31 August 2014

(banner image – Aboudia, Djoly du Mogoba, 2011 © Aboudia, 2011; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London)

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© Dillon Marsh; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

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© Ibrahim Mahama; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

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(left) Rafael Gómezbarros, Casa Tomada, 2013 © Rafael Gómezbarros, 2013; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

(right) Leonce Agbodjelu, Demoiselles de Porto-Novo © Leonce Agbodjelu; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

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Antonio Malta Campos, Figures in Red, 2004 © Antonio Malta Campos, 2004; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

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Rafael Gómezbarros, Casa Tomada, 2013 © Rafael Gómezbarros, 2013; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

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(left) Vincent Michea, Before the Bigger Splash, 2012 © Vincent Michea, 2012; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London

(right) Boris Nzebo, Auberge du Boulot Noir, 2013 © Boris Nzebo, 2013; image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London