Champagne Life is the first group show comprised entirely of work by female artists in Saatchi Gallery’s 30-year history. Originally titled A Woman’s Hand, it was changed to Champagne Life after the deal with the exhibition’s sponsor, Pommery, was signed. This new title assumes a reflection of an artist’s work in the studio versus the glamour of the art world—almost a too clever reiteration of Pommery’s involvement.
Brooklyn-based artist Julia Wachtel, the oldest artist of the show and creator of the Champagne Life painting, used an image of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West pulled from the internet, turned it upside down, and set it next to a blue representation of Minnie Mouse. I see in her an allusion of Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol and in the title a shout-out to Ne-Yo’s song “Champagne Life.”
“Really, she’s making a mockery of the perception that champagne can be an easily obtained aspiration,” says Nigel Hurst, Saatchi’s CEO. “[A perception] that throws into contrast the long lonely hours that these women artists have to work in their studios against the glamour of the art world with its endless launches and art fairs and parties.”
In this exhibition, the “Champagne Life” seems, and is, out of reach unless you are incredibly wealthy. The viewers wander around the gallery, exploring and trying to get closer to the artist’s world, but somehow it seems impossible. Walking through the different rooms you are confronted with a cold but paradoxically attractive glamorous life. In one room, Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari is featured with a taxidermied horse astride a deflating balloon.
Serbian painter Jelena Bulajic‘s work recalled Chuck Close’s portraits. In this room of Bulajic’s huge, stunning close-ups of elderly women, time stopped. The beauty of the marks left by the passage of life on those faces is striking.
Another intriguing room: After a performance Alice Anderson, the London artist, created sculptures all made out of gigantic cotton reel and sphere formed from miles of hair-like copper thread. The contrast between the fragility of the texture and the luminous metallic color create a captivating beauty, that you can’t stop staring at. Her work screams minimalism, the kind that you don’t expect. Something between contemporary art and ancient relics.
At Saatchi Gallery, beauty is everywhere. Make sure to have your cameras ready!