In less than a month the Richard Saltoun Gallery (RSG) will embark on a year-long programme of exhibitions solely focused on female artists. As part of the gallery’s ongoing commitment to supporting artists who are under-recognized and under-represented, RSG will use their exhibitions as a protest against gender inequalities still prominent in the art world and community. The programme, called ‘100% Women,’ aims to encourage debate, discussion, action, and collaboration simultaneously highlighting women artists and addressing societal issues prevalent today.
The art world is unsurprisingly dominated by men – it has been for centuries. Male artists outnumber female artists on all fronts, from auctions to solo shows, and their careers grow exponentially quicker. According to the RSG press release for ‘100% Women’, less than 30% of artists represented by large London galleries are female and only 5% of galleries having equal parts male and female artists. Thus, the careers of female artists hit a proverbial brick wall while their male counterparts often see prolonged success. Moreover, female representation within commercial galleries continues to dwindle highlighting the exclusive nature of the male-dominated field.
Through gallery exhibitions, art fairs, artists talks, a lecture series, collaboration, and digital platforms, the RSG will address the issue of inequality on their own level. Opening on March 1st, ‘100% Women’, will rotate exhibitions starting with a solo show of works by British artist Rose English (born 1950). Playing a major role in the development of performance art in England, English’s exhibition will showcase her as a performance artist, photographer, painter, and ceramicist. In April, ‘100% Women’ will shift to focus on Belgian-based Lili Dujourie (born 1941) who, in the 1970s was a leading force in the Feminist avant-garde movement. This exhibition will be Dujourie’s first solo show in 20 years and lead into the next exhibition, which will feature French artist Gina Pane (1939-1990). Pane is best-known for exploring notions of abuse, experience, and empathy using her own body as her canvas. This portion of ‘100% Women’ will coincide with Mayfair Art Weekend during June, which will exhibit works by Penny Slinger (born 1947) who was born in England and now works in LA. Slinger’s works focusing on the development of Tantric art will run alongside works by Austrian artist Renate Bertlmann (born 1943) who will be the first woman to represent her country in 2019’s Venice Biennale. Finally, an exhibition titled ‘Women Look at Women’ curated by Paola Ugolini in 2018 will wrap up ‘100% Women.’ Ugilini’s exhibition features works by Italian artists Silvia Giambrone (born 1981) and Marinella Senatore (born 1977) as well as works by British artist Marie Yates (born 1940).
‘Whilst we have achieved gender parity in our roster of artists – 50% of the artists we represent or exhibit frequently are women – this is an opportunity for us to discuss equality on a bigger scale,’ says Richard Saltoun, founder and director of RSG. ‘Our aim is to ensure the female artists who have made a great impact on the development of contemporary art are duly noted in art history. We want to take responsibility for this and set an example, but of course still have room to grow.’