Female Artists Take Over Saatchi Gallery

Champagne Life, Saatchi Gallery ★★★☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 31 months ago
Female Artists Take Over Saatchi Gallery Champagne Life, Saatchi Gallery 3
This taxidermied horse carries a political message on the 'Green Movement' uprising in Iran. Copyright Soheila Sokhanvari

Recently there have been a lot of exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery which had nothing to do with the owner's collection. This had us wondering whether he was interested in showing off his art anymore. Champagne Life is the exhibition to say that Charles Saatchi is indeed back — and this time he's focussing on female artists.

There have been so many stories highlighting the fact women are under-represented in major collections, and that their work is under-valued. This is Saatchi's opportunity to tackle this problem. An admirable idea, but is the work any good?

It's a hit and miss affair. We're glad to see the wax figures by Virgile Ittah and the clay cow sculptures by Stephanie Quayle — two artists we're big fans of. And after her excellent solo show at Wellcome Collection, it's great to see Alice Anderson is back with giant sculptures — such as a huge spool of twine — all encased in her trademark copper wire.

But there's a problem. The common thread holding these artists together is that they are all women, but what's more obvious is they all fall into Saatchi's favoured style — bold works that catch the eye. It ends up being something of a one-dimensional show.

A solid, cohesive exhibition then, but not what you'd call a return to form for Saatchi.

To broaden the remit, we recommend a visit to the top floor where there's a separate exhibition by the artist Aidan. Tall sculptures resemble robed figures in a religion-inspired show — where the clever lighting adds to the contemplative atmosphere.

Champagne Life is on at Saatchi Gallery until 9 March. Revelations: New work by Aidan is on until 28 February. Both exhibitions are free to visit and the gallery is open seven days a week.

Alice Anderson is back with more trademark copper wire encase sculpture. Copyright Alice Anderson.
We like these cows by Stephanie Quayle, and Lion Man (also on display) is even better. Copyright Stephanie Quayle.

Last Updated 13 January 2016

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