Three white-walled rooms make up the small Skarstedt gallery, which lies tucked away on Bennett Street, a three minute walk from Green Park tube station. The space is just one floor, but the high rise ceilings and bright lighting creates an airy, open feeling.
In the early nineties Swedish art dealer Per Skarstedt opened a gallery in New York under the title of his last name. He now has two galleries in New York, and one in London. Although this London space is relatively new, having opened in October, Skarstedt had a previous gallery in London which closed leading up to this opening.
Skarstedt focuses primarily on late 20th century American and European artists, who all touch on themes of identity and appearance through a range of mediums. The new gallery is in a prime location, offering a platform for more comprehensive and successful exhibitions on lesser known artists.
The gallery takes on a minimalistic approach with the design of their new building, and the vast white space between pieces creates a background where any distractions are dropped. Exhibitions come and go quite often, and there are always interchanging artists. Per Skarstedt has an interesting dynamic when it comes to the set up of exhibits, and has a few artists that he continuously displays, selecting certain periods of their work for different exhibitions. The likes of George Condo hang on the wall’s at the moment, alongside a collection of artists like Martin Kippenberger, Richard Prince and others who captured the late 1900’s in their work.
At the moment, one room of the gallery is devoted to Martin Kippenberger’s Raft of the Medusa, which is a series of self portrait lithographs, varying in color and depiction. Raft of the Medusa was the late artist’s last set of portraits, and draws an influence from the French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault’s 1819 oil painting with the same title. Using photographs as his starting point, Kippenberger posed mimicking the body positions of people from the original Medusa painting. The odd take on a self portrait is my personal favorite, and a particularly interesting piece, as the angles and expressions Kippenberger used to capture himself reflect the bold persona he held throughout his career and life.
While the gallery has specific themed exhibits every once in awhile, it is common for the exhibits to simply focus on a group artists, and the showcase nothing more than a few selected pieces from each of them. It is interesting to see who is selected together, and the contrasts and comparisons behind style and motive is what makes each exhibit different from the others.
One downside to the gallery is the lack of promotion and communication to those seeking it out. It has quite a small online presence, and there are not always huge explanations of upcoming exhibits and such. This should not turn anyone away from visiting the space though, as the captivating art makes up for the the absence of online connection with viewers.
Only a few months settled into their new space, Skarstedt still has plenty of exhibitions and shows on the way. Free unless noted for a special exhibition, Skarstedt is a place with accessible art, making it ideal for students and a gallery definitely worth stopping by.