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Moje Sabz
Moje Sabz, Soheila SokhanvariSoheila Sokhanvari; courtesy of Saatchi gallery

Saatchi Gallery to show its first all-female art exhibition

‘Champagne Life’, a showcase of 14 women’s work, attempts to address the gender inequality in contemporary art

Now, as it prepares to mark its 30th anniversary, the iconic Saatchi Gallery in London is pushing forward into the future with its first all-female exhibition. Champagne Life, which opens on January 13, brings together the work of 14 female emerging artists from across the globe and gives them a museum-scale space to showcase their skills.

“We’ve always supported the work of women artists over the years, many of those have gone on to have key roles in the contemporary art world, but I think there’s still a huge amount of work to be done,” Nigel Hurst, the gallery’s chief executive told the Guardian. “Though women artists are far better represented in contemporary art now, in terms of the number of women artists that are having their work exhibited and shown, there remains a glass ceiling that needs to be addressed.”

The discrepancy between male and minority artists such as women is extreme and very visible. For example, the highest price paid at auction for a work by a living female artist is $7.1m for a Yayoi Kusama painting; the highest male equivalent is $58.4m for a sculpture by Jeff Koons. When the East London Fawcett group audited 134 commercial London galleries in 2013, it found that only 31 per cent of the represented artists were women. Basic stats like these show that the anger and protest of anonmyous feminist group, Guerrilla Girls, who have devoted the past 30 years to fighting sexism and racism within the art world, is still worryingly relevant.

Hurst said: “The disparity is being redressed because of the number of women that are making contemporary art, but I still think, like a lot of industries, the art industry suffers from the fact that if you take a break from working it’s perceived that you’re maybe not as serious about your profession as you should be. Women artists are no different to women everywhere, they have to juggle family commitments with their working practice. So I think they probably have to keep more plates spinning than their male counterparts.”

The name of the exhibition is taken from one of the works of featured American artist, Julia Wachtel. Her piece “Champagne Life” is an image of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West juxtaposed next to a sky-blue Minnie Mouse. As told to the Guardian, Watchel’s intention here is not to create a nervous response to the onslaught of images the public are exposed to constantly. 

Interestingly, the exhibition coincides with another all-female exhibition taking place in America (The Rubell Family Collection has curated No Man’s Land in Miami, an exhibition that celebrates the work of more than 100 female artists) – a positive move towards breaking down gender barriers in the mainstream arts world.

Champagne Life runs at the Saatchi Gallery from January 13 to March 6 2016.