Body Language at Saatchi Gallery

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From November 20 until March 16, the Saatchi Gallery is holding its latest exhibition, aptly titled Body Language. The group show includes a plethora of exclusively figurative pieces from 19 different international artists. You can surmise what the works are about from literalness of the title: how the body can be used to communicate. These are not formal studies as much as explorations of what the body can mean as an object of representation. Body Language, both the show and its namesake, remind us that some things can only be communicated through a language without speech.

The show doesn’t stick to one mode of expression, but rather displays the variety of the body’s manifestations. Tanyth Berkeley’s post-operation transgender portraits make us consider not only the artifice of the gender binary but also the incredible diversity of human life. Nicole Eisenman’s “Beer Garden at Night,” with its depiction of a sprawling bacchanalian party at which people both laugh and cry, emphasizes our simultaneous desire for community and solidarity. Marianne Vitale’s huge, scorched “burned bridge” and tombstones, ominously titled “Markers,” show us the fragility and inescapable entropy of the human body in the face of nature, with only decrepit objects to mark what we leave. On a lighter note, Makiko Kudo’s oil paintings depict cartoonlike children surrounded by lush landscapes, reminding us that our world is a place of imagination and mystery.

Ultimately, Body Language exemplifies the body as the most effective way to ground the infinitely vast iterations of the human experience to the reality of the physical world.

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