Saatchi's new stars: collector prepares for new gallery opening

As the world's most influential art collector prepares to open his new gallery on the King's Road, he reveals the latest crop of six contemporary artists he has alighted on. Exclusive report by Arifa Akbar

Charles Saatchi: art patron, showman, cultural impresario. To some, he has done more than any other to shake up the contemporary art world and enliven the British scene with remarkable, visionary collections. To others, he is the former ad man whose taste for the bold and the brash, for the controversial and the confrontational, has started a trend for a generation of artwork that rewards shock-value but little else.

The man who set in motion the "Saatchi decade" with a collection that comprised works by both the best known and the most obscure figures in conceptual art can be relied upon to provoke a sharp divergence of views in critical circles the world over. But by now, with the Young British Artists he plucked from anonymity in the early 1990s regarded as undeniable greats, one thing is beyond debate: Mr Saatchi sure knows a good thing when he sees it.

Damien Hirst, one of the first youthful talents to benefit from the dealer's perceptive eye, is now the world's most expensive living artist. Tracey Emin is a name instantly synonymous with creative courage combined with and unshakeable star-quality. The Chapman Brothers, Stella Vine, Mark Quinn: the list goes on and on. But, as Emin herself admitted with characteristic honesty at this year's Venice biennale, the Young British Artists are no longer exactly young. "We're Middle-Aged British Artists now," was her deadpan verdict. "MABAS."

And so what now for the man with the Midas touch who has made his own career out of making the careers of others? Simple: to find the stars of tomorrow.

Mr Saatchi is notoriously media-shy and known to be so reclusive that he eschews the opening nights of his own exhibitions and rarely gives interviews. But today The Independent can exclusively reveal the identities of the up-and-coming artists whom he credits with the talent to transform the art scene in a similar way to the YBAs.

There are six of them, all fresh faces on the contemporary art scene, the youngest in her mid- twenties and the eldest in his fifties. One displays a preoccupation with disturbing images of male sexuality, another prioritises the elusive quality of "fun" above almost all else. What they all have in common, however, is a raw talent that has convinced the world's most famous collector. Now all he has to do is convince everyone else. To this end, he intends to showcase these works along with established collections at the new Saatchi Gallery, on the King's Road, London, which will give free admission to the public in partnership with Phillips de Pury & Company auction house.

Saatchi intends to champion the work of these "emerging" artists, plucked from across the world, in the 70,000 square feet of exhibition space in the gallery, which is due to open in January.(2008) After having sold some of the work of the YBAs that he became so synonymous with a decade earlier, he described how this latest venue would function as a launch-pad for young, previously unprofiled artists. "The new gallery is going to have a clearly defined role to introduce very new art and artists from Britain and the rest of the world," he said.

He added that the gallery was aimed at introducing "as many people as possible to very contemporary art and make it easily accessible to art students and all schools." The new collection includes artists from all over the world, from contemporary Chinese artists as well as Londoners, such as Barry Reigate, a 36-year-old Croydon-born painter. Reigate was showing his work "Flies around the Fury Flotsam" at a group show at the Curator's Base gallery in London in 2005 when Saatchi wandered in and bought his painting, and later acquired three more. His canvases are described as "pop-porn at its best" containing hedonist visions of disembodied breasts and phalluses. Another of Saatchi's finds is Rudolph Stingel, who, according to the Saatchi Gallery, offers conceptualism with "Blue Peter" simplicity. The Italian artist, born in Merano, had no formal training when he began his career as a portrait painter straight after high school. He had been exhibiting around Europe and America when Saatchi spotted his work.

A spokeswoman revealed his buying methods, which included an arrangement with international art dealers in which he could "view" works for 24 hours before deciding on a sale.

"He gets sent images sent by about 25 or so of young dealers in New York and Los Angeles and they have now got a system in place whereby if he thinks any of the images are interesting, he get the works sent over here for 24 hours so he can see them properly. If they are not for him they can be sent back the following day," she said.

Six of the best?

BARRY REIGATE

Jokingly describing himself as "the blackest white man in art" and "the Ali G of the artworld", Reigate (right) has made it his mission to put the fun back into the profession. "I grew up with Jamaicans and West Indians in Streatham and I play on the idea of being loud and carnivalesque," he said. His work, characteristically painted in squiggly brush marks and smears, captures contemporary schmaltz with great wit and effervescence.

PHOEBE UNWIN

Born in Cambridge in 1979, Unwin is one of the youngest artists in the collection. Her work focuses mainly on portraits, taking in historical references and is described as "painterly" with a keen focus on texture and colour. She has exhibited at The Slade as well as the Anthony Wilkinson Gallery, in Bethnal Green, east London. Saatchi bought five of her paintings from her degree show.

THOMAS HOUSEAGO

Born in Leeds in 1972, his work (below) is said to "playfully subvert the expectation of sculpture" by drawing references to Classicism, Cubism and Futurism. His monumental structures are often figurative and mythological and, in spite of their size, often appear almost comically flimsy. Much of his work tends to border on abstract art, with rough hewn and incomplete forms that highlight the process of making a work of art.

RUDOLPH STINGEL

Despite not presenting his art on traditional canvases, Stingel regards himself as painter nonetheless. He invites the audience to interact with his installations and photographs, which he sees as public "collaborations". The Italian has covered the walls of a gallery in silver insulation panels and allowed people to make them in whichever way they felt. In his 1991 New York debut exhibition, his entire collection consisted of a bright orange rug in an otherwise empty gallery.

CLAYTON BROTHERS

Collaboration is central for the American-born brothers Rob and Christian, whose relationship is described by the Saatchi Gallery as "resonating through every aspect of their paintings and installations". They are said to create artworks together on an intuitive basis but seldom work on a canvas at the same time or discuss their projects until they are complete. Playing off their "unspoken synergy", they take turns inventing, adding to and editing each piece. They draw inspiration from their immediate environment.

TALA MADANI

The Iranian artist, born in Tehran in 1981, studied at Yale University School of Art and exhibited at the school's graduate show in 2005, winning the Schickle-Collingwood Prize before going on to study a masters in Fine Art. Her work is tough, confrontational and often hard to look at. Madani refuses to shy away from political controversy, and symbolises suicide bombers with depictions of pink pastries.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum