Champagne Life: Saatchi Gallery celebrates its 30th anniversary with an all-female exhibition

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Women are taking over the Saatchi Gallery space from the 13th of January until the 9th of March. The Champagne Life exhibition marks the gallery’s 30th anniversary and brings together the works of 14 visionary women. As its first ever all-female exhibition, Saatchi pays tribute to its commitment to champion little-known artists in the early stages as well as throughout their careers.

The exhibition’s name is taken from one of the showcased pieces, Champagne Life by Julia Wachtel. This artwork from 2014 displays a repeated upside down image of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in contrast to an image of a poorly copied, plastic Minnie Mouse sculpture. The name as such is drawn from the eponymous song by Ne-Yo, ‘who sings of a life “where dreams and reality are one in the same”. This paradoxical attempt to converge the fantastical with the real is the epitome of a culture driven by the lust for celebrity, and the figure of champagne as a relatively affordable signification of luxury life, the highest aspiration and emptiest cipher’, according to Saatchi Gallery’s description of the piece.

Nevertheless, the selection of artists couldn’t be more diverse – all artists are at different stages of their careers, based in different parts of the world and express themselves through the most different art forms. With artworks ranging from paintings, sculptures, photography up to taxidermy, Champagne Life is anything but one-sided.

Some highlights include paintings of historical reenactments in neon colours by Sigrid Holmwood, monumental clay sculptures by Stephanie Quayle that link ‘man to nature [and] animal to human’ as well as Iranian-born Soheila Sokhanvari’s taxidermy sculpture Moje Sabz that speaks to Iran’s Green Movement uprising of 2009, in which demonstrations lead to the annulment of a fraudulent election result.

Another highlight worth mentioning is Maha Malluh’s sculpture Food For Thought – Al-Muallaqat, which displays 233 burnt aluminium cooking pots arranged on a 4mx10m wall. Based in Saudi Arabia, Malluh draws inspiration from her home country, it’s culture and contrasting ideals. Using objects found in flea markets and junk shops, her work revolves around the impact globalisation and consumer culture has on her country and its people.

Other artists include American painter Mequitta Ahuja, Korean painter Seung Ah Paik, British sculptor Alice Anderson, French photographer Marie Angeletti, Serbian painter Jelena Bulajic, American sculptor Julia Dault, Canadian sculptor Mia Feuer, French sculptor Virgile Ittah and American painter Suzanne McClelland.

Some argue that exhibiting an all-female show instead of making a conscious effort to include a diverse group of artists in general could not be helping the cause, meaning, changing the unspoken subliminal notion that art created by a female artist is any different to art created by a male artist. Nevertheless, if an all-female exhibition is sparking the discussion of gender and equality on all levels, even in the art world, then it must be hitting a nerve. There is no doubt there is need for a greater representation of women in galleries and museums, especially when it comes to contemporary art.

But besides sharing the same gender, none of the artists or the artwork in this exhibition is interlinked in any way, which seems to be the point. Instead it all seems rather simple and even more poignant: Champagne Life brings together a group of incredible contemporary artists and gives them the space to convey their own message, whatever it may be.

See some images of the Champagne Life exhibition in our gallery below.