Hyunsu Yim

Champagne Life, Saatchi Gallery, exhibition review: ‘life from a female point of view’

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Champagne Life by Julia Wachtel

Champagne Life by Julia Wachtel, 2014

Marking the venue’s 30th anniversary, Champagne Life celebrates the work of female artists ranging from interesting and thought-provoking paintings to eye-catching and colourful sculptures. Since 1985, the Saatchi Gallery has become one of the leading arts gallery in London, and has helped pave the way for female artists’ success by giving them an artistic platform early in their career.

The exhibition sees a collection of works done by a number of female artists of different age groups from all around the world including the UK, USA, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia to embrace diversity and gender equally in the arts.

Organisers say, ‘Champagne Life suggests high living, prestige and affluence… the irony of the title is palpable and throws into contrast the reality of many long, cold, lonely hours working in the studio with the perceived glamour of the art world.’

As Saatchi’s very first all-female exhibition ‘Champagne Life’ comes to an end today, almost coinciding with International Women’s Day which was yesterday, we cover the artworks from the exhibition in detail for those who couldn’t make it.

Champagne Life, the title of the exhibition, comes from the same-titled work by America artist Julia Wachtel, which uses inverted images of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West next to a sky blue Minnie Mouse sculpture.

Influenced by Andy Warhol, her interpretation of the current state of pop culture, often represented by the likes of Kim and Kanye, seems to carry slightly humorous yet critical undertones, not afraid to poke fun at a generation characterised as ever so materialistic and attention-seeking.



Moje Sabz by Soheila Sokhanvari, 2011

Apart from the obvious wow factor here that is the taxidermy horse sitting on an inflatable beach ball-like object, this artwork by Iranian artist Sohelia Sokhanvari possesses a political message.

Describing herself as a “cultural collage between East and Western philosophy”, she turns to magical realism in order to make connections between her work and the political situation of Iran using unusual objects, which she believes is far more an effective way than naturalism that will appeal to more people.



‘Untitled 19, 10:27 AM–1:13 PM, January 5, and 5:08–6:48 PM, January 6, 2016, installed by Simon Bird’ by Julia Dault

The effervescent sculpture by Dault has scratches visible on the surface adding a personal touch to the artwork. The title of the work was name after the time and place where the work was done.



Phil ‘The Gift’ and Jay ‘Cuts’ (Ideal Proportions) by Suzanne McClelland, 2013

Incorporating statistics and numbers into her work, McClelland specialises in making something aesthetically pleasing with hidden meanings behind her work.

For instance, statistics used in “Phil ‘The Gift’ and Jay ‘Cuts’ are about professional bodybuilders Phil Heath and Jay Cutler.



Two Cows, Stephanie Quayle, 2013

Made with organic material such as air-hardening clay, chicken wire and steel, this work by Stephanie Quayle links our minds with nature and makes us rethink of the relationships between humans and animals.

“I’m interested in how much we align or distance ourselves from them – how they reflect, question and return our gaze. How they see into our souls and connect us to the natural world and force of nature inherent within,” said Quayle.



Maitreya, Seung Ah Paik, 2013

Paik uses, yuk-ri-mun-bup (육리문법), a traditional Korean style of portraying, through which the identity of the sitter is revealed through showing the minute details of a face. In fact, it’s her fingers that are portrayed.

“Every wrinkle, scar, callus, dead skin, and lump of cellulite reflects one’s history and personality.” In a time where flawlessness is celebrated as innately beautiful, and when the separation of mind and body is ever more initiated by our reliance on technology, these landscapes of flesh present and celebrate the inescapability of our own corporeality,” says Paik.

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