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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Saatchi shifts focus to paintings
Charles Saatchi
Mr Saatchi is one of the UK's highest-profile arts patrons
Art collector Charles Saatchi, famed for exhibits like Tracy Emin's unmade bed and Damien Hirst's pickled shark, is switching his interest to paintings.

The installation art usually favoured by Mr Saatchi will be removed from his County Hall Gallery in London to make way for a new painting exhibition.

The Triumph of Painting, which opens in January, will feature artists including Peter Doig and Marlene Dumas.

Work by Emin and Hirst will not return to the gallery until 2007.

"For the last 10 years, only five of the 40 Turner Prize artists have been pure painters," said Mr Saatchi.

"We think it's time for a painting survey, looking at established international artists and later on in the year, the younger new young painters."

Saatchi Gallery at County Hall
The Gallery opened on London's South Bank in spring 2003

The traditional wood panelling of County Hall will be removed especially for the exhibition. Rooms will be redesigned to create space for larger paintings.

"The gallery believes that throughout a period when photography, video and installation art has been at the forefront of museum attention, painting continues to be the most relevant and vital way that artists choose to communicate," a statement said.

Saatchi's last exhibition, New Blood, did not receive a warm reception from critics.

The modern art mogul lost more than 100 artworks from his famous collection after a warehouse fire in May.

A spokeswoman for Saatchi said he was "absolutely devastated" after the works - worth millions of pounds - were lost.

She said many were Mr Saatchi's "great personal favourites" and he considered them "irreplaceable in the history of British art".

Works by Hirst and Emin perished in the fire in east London.

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