These group shows are running concurrently until July 26th and September 6th, the former a smaller scale exhibition on just the top floor the latter a sprawling display of work from two continents across a dozen or so of the galleries. Ironically the theme of the former is quite the opposite of the huge diversity and sense of life shown by the latter - there is a global force at work within Pangaea 2 and the contributions show a merging of worlds as well as many proudly demonstrating their origins. Sculptures are made from worn car tires, ninety-seven thousand blue plastic bags, Armand Boua creates street scenes with a monochrome palate of white paint and tar on found cardboard, tearing texture into the surface.
The museum size gallery spans a wealth of talent and some of these names are already experiencing a huge uplift in attention following Saatchi's interest. The giant wall crawling ants of Rafael Gómezbarros have appeared in a thousand selfies and are employed here is a very claustrophobic space, making them all the more unpleasant to be around. In fact of all the works, it is probably these that join the two exhibitions together.
DEAD: A Celebration of Mortality is more tongue in cheek, more challenging in it's scope and focus but certainly demonstrating a knowing humour in many of the works. There are the skins of a cat and dog strung up on the wall, a mummy is discarded wrapped in its bandages on the floor. An old woman with witch's shoes lies rigid across chairs rigour mortis fully advanced. Another corpse lies half buried under books and a Babel-like tower of mice climbs to the ceiling. A newspaper has been meticulously soaked with blood and tea, dried out and cut into a flower arrangement.
There are a lot of bodies around but there is lightness in the galleries and the mood is not somber. There is a manipulated photo of the world's bad guys all congregating together, Stalin with Saddam Hussein, Chairman Mao with Osama Bin Laden - it's a prompt to smirk rather than a cause for concern.
The Wallace Collection celebrated death a few years ago, it displayed incredible infographics as to how the world dies - how many of us die of heart disease, what percentage of us a killed in cars or by each other or drugs; it was fascinating and like this, not so much sobering but a welcome invitation to consider death and discuss it rather than pretend it's never going to happen to us when of course it is the only eventuality we all share.
http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/pangaea_II/ until September 6th
http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/dead/ until July 26th