‘Questions Not Related to Nigella’: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #147

Julia Dault Champagne Life at Saatchi Gallery 2016
Julia Dault: ‘Untitled 19, 10:27 AM–1:13 PM, January 5, and 5:08–6:48 PM, January 6, 2016, installed by Simon Bird’, 2012 – Plexiglas, Tambour, Everlast boxing wraps, string

How many women have to be in a women-only show for it to look like a statement rather than a show which happens to feature female artists?
Surely fewer than the 14 in Saatchi’s latest display, titled Champagne Life in half-irony, half obeisance to the sponsor’s Pommery fizz, which I was happy enough to enjoy at the opening. If it’s a statement, though, it’s unclear what that might amount to in this disparate show.

How hard can it be to install work in such a large and well-tested space?
Pretty hard in the case of Alice Anderson’s 3.5m high bobbin: both the lift and the work had to be partly deconstructed to get it in. That was worthwhile, though, for the egg-umbilical fairytale Freudianism of her biggest copper thread mummifications yet.

Bound by Alice Anderson at the Saatchi gallerys Champagne Life exhibition.
Bound by Alice Anderson at the Saatchi gallery’s Champagne Life exhibition.

Is the point of such shows to facilitate photo opportunities?
Maybe: the high proportion of selfie-friendly works here also include cows, equines, giant body and face magnifications and a wall of battered pans to pose before.

Is this fairly random mix worth visiting? I’d say yes, mainly by adding Anderson and Wachtel to Julia Dault‘s coiled supressions of energy, Mequitta Ahuja‘s dramatic layering of paper grounds and Sigrid Holmwood‘s psychedelic take on 19th century peasant life.

Why hasn’t Holmwood used fluorescent paint since this series?
They were too saleable, she told me: no champagne life for her, she needs to suffer for her art.

champagne sigrid_holmwood_goat
Sigrid Holmwood: ‘Old Woman Hugging A Goat’, 2008 – Fluorescent lemon yellow, fluorescent flame red, lead white, cochineal, ultramarine, green earth, Spanish red ochre in egg tempera and oils on board

Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?

About Paul Carey-Kent

Art critic and curator, based near Southampton. I write most regularly for Art Monthly, Frieze, Elephant, State, Photomonitor... and, of course, FAD.