The Saatchi's latest exhibition of up-and-coming British artists won't fail to disappoint – it possesses the quintessentially British combination of almost juvenile satire and macabre political humour, representing not only an external, somewhat stereotypical idea of what it is to be British, but also how detached this has become from genuine experience.
Case in point is the first work in the exhibition, a large oil painting of a rosy-faced, morbidly obese 17th century aristocrat shoving a fork into his face, a work by Charlie Billingham entitled A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion (2012). The image of the libertine is one that is particularly striking in the context of the recession, now considered by many to be a Depression, for which the hedonism of the City acted as a catalyst.
In contrast to this are Alejandro Guijaro's blackboard artworks, for which he has collected a series of blackboards with the chalk writing still on them from some of the world's most prestigious scientific institutions. The works Stanford I, Cern I, Berkeley II (all 2012) and Cambridge II (2011) display the remains of physics and mathematics calculations, as well as the unmistakable marks of corrections and erasures, thereby betraying their history through these remnants of their past lives. They also highlight the aesthetic beauty of science, which is an interesting precursor to Natasha Peel's work The World's Local Nomad (2012), a sculpture that recalls the abstract minimalism of mid-century America; a sheet of clear Perspex appears to be floating delicately off a red cube, giving the illusion of being balanced in such a precarious manner that it is down to a miracle of mechanics that it remains in its current position.
The illusion of fragility continues with Sara Barker's minimalist sculpture series, a selection of which are entitled Love Letter (2012), Intercourse (2011), and La Leçon de Piano (2010) – a reference to Jane Campion's 1993 film The Piano. They consist largely of steel rods arranged delicately in quadrilateral formations against the walls or on aluminium plinths. They have been covered in white painted canvas, making it seem as though these deceptively sturdy structures have blended into the background, existing more substantially as their shadows against the white cube space than as the metal themselves. These works appear even more delicate when viewed next to James Capper's large fragments of heavy-duty industrial machinery, Ripper Teeth A-F (A/P) (2011-12) and Nipper (Long Reach) (2012), which dominate the gallery, despite occupying far less space. Usually such objects signify aggression and brute force, but dismantled and removed from their original contexts, these pieces are essentially defunct and castrated; indeed, there is something rather tragic about them.
Dominic From Luton's work Dominic From Luton as Margaret Thatcher (2011) is an interesting and highly topical choice, likely influenced somewhat by the very recent passing of Baroness Thatcher; in the work, a triptych of three photographs, Dominic From Luton has photographed himself, dressed in a lady's tartan suit and silk polka-dot scarf, wheeling around the backstreets of Luton and public toilets in what appears to be a rather dilapidated wheelchair. It is an idealised fantasy of class subversion, placing Thatcher in would have been an unlikely setting for her, whilst additionally seeming to comment on her policies regarding the welfare state and disability benefits, in connection with her own late-onset disabilities. His other piece Shoes Off If You Love Luton! (2012) offsets the Thatcher triptych with its brightness, the flash of clear blue sky in the sunlight a stark contrast to the grim darkness of Luton in the night.
The exhibition is vast and diverse, but the selection is far from scattered: each work either seems to flow seamlessly into the next one, or juxtaposes in such a way that they compliment each other. New Order provides an exciting first glimpse into the work of the newest generation of British artists.