Exhibitionism review: The Saatchi Gallery recreated Mick Jagger's grotty old flat

 
Steve Hogarty
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The Rolling Stones, obviously enough. (Source: Helmut Newton)

Saatchi Gallery | ★★★★★

A year before they set about irreversibly altering the course of music history globally and forever, The Rolling Stones ate baked beans straight out of the tin in a squalid Chelsea flat like mucky little dirtbags. Their festering hovel at 102 Edith Grove has been meticulously recreated as part of Exhibitionism, the first ever Rolling Stones exhibition (surprisingly enough), and an enthralling, comprehensive and richly furnished account of the band’s varied history.

Poke around the food-encrusted dishes piling up in the sink. Marvel at the brown bouquets of fag ends spilling out of greasy frying pans. Listen to the softly crackling vinyl of Muddy Waters and other blues influences. This rancid and lived-in bedsit is a time machine straight back to 1962, reconstructed from the fuzzy memories of Mick and Keith, the long departed rockstars who never could have guessed that their private mountain of filth would be memorialised with such shaming accuracy by obsessed future historians. Get down on your knees to gander under Jagger’s bed and you’ll even spot a few grot mags. That’s real attention to detail.

The rock and roll pigsty is a launch pad, with a front door leading out to rooms showcasing The Rolling Stones’ first UK tour and their subsequent stratospheric rise to legendary status. Artefacts from the band’s past and present appear throughout, with rooms dedicated to their original, custom and hand-painted instruments, their radical and ever-evolving outfits and their vast collection of iconic tour posters and album art. An entire room is devoted simply to the band's logo, detailing its initial design by John Pasche, while in the corner looms a huge, physical model of a shimmering, technicolour tongue protruding from a pair of plump and glowing lips.

Laser-focused and utterly immersive, this incisive celebration of The Rolling Stones cuts right to the very core of the band, exploring not just their music, but their influential visual artistry, their documentaries, clothing and revolutionary approach to stagecraft. Exhibitionism culminates in a mocked up backstage tour – just as finely detailed as the dilapidated craphole where it all started – that opens into a genuinely spectacular, never before seen 3D live show experience.

Exhibitionism is not just a colossal effort and pitch-perfect tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time, but it's perhaps the most ambitious and well-produced exhibitions of its kind. An essential experience for anyone with even the barest interest in rock music, it will leave you energised.

Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones first ever exhibition runs at Saatchi Gallery from 5 April until 4 September 2016 – stonesexhibitionism.com

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