Saatchi Gallery, London
There are poignant objects and portraits in this ultimately worthwhile tour of the reggae icon’s life – but also ersatz recreations and shallow commerciality
A frayed sheet of A4 paper bearing the lyrics to Turn Your Lights Down Low, with scribbled corrections; a pair of old football boots still with mud in the cleats; the surface of a battered acoustic guitar, deteriorated through overuse. Such poignant relics are few and far between in the first touring exhibition devoted to Bob Marley, which relies largely on portraiture, framed gold discs and staged recreations to tell its tale.
Promising an immersive experience illustrating the philosophy, vision and drive that made Marley one of the most famous singers on the planet, the Bob Marley One Love Experience unfolds across six rooms, over two floors of the Saatchi Gallery, London. And the giant red, green and gold replica of the multiplatinum Legend compilation album that takes centre stage in the opening One Love Music Room sets the tone. Aside from his date and place of birth displayed on a banner on the wall, there is precious little information about the man himself, though many may already be familiar with the tale. There’s the award to mark his 1994 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and some backstage tour passes, but the most striking thing in the room is a wall-length portrait by Mr Brainwash that cleverly incorporates all of the Island Records album covers, displayed opposite replicas of the albums themselves.