Petite yet potent, the art space of SAAS Gallery (Sofya Abbott Art Space, named after its owner) showcases an intriguing collection of contemporary Russian and international artists, tucked away in a corner of Chelsea. While London has several galleries dedicated to classic Russian artwork, emerging voices are woefully underrepresented. Abbott perhaps cannily set up her gallery in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, along the riverside stretch of Cheyne Walk, as there is a strong Russian community in the area. Through the SAAS Gallery, Abbott is impassioned to introduce rising stars to the UK art scene and praise enthusiastically the talents of established creatives.
The gallery’s opening gambit was an exclusively commissioned show by Valery Chtak, whose witty needling of British celebrities and deconstruction of the culture that lauds them set the tone for the eloquent, often irreverent shows we can come to expect in future from this gallery. His work harks back to Dada’s cheekiness and pokes a tongue out at bourgeoisie ideals. Olga Soldatova’s ‘Christmas Flight’ show took the bombastic Soviet aesthetic and interpreted its plane murals (inspired by those in the Mayakovskaya metro station), futurist utopias and aspirational scenes through arts and crafts. Canvasses sparkling with sequins and semi-precious stones and lavishly embroidered pieces put propaganda under new scrutiny, giving it an ironic yet nostalgic edge, lifting it with an art deco twist and questioning what value these images still have today.
The newest exhibition comes from Serbian artist Marija Šević, who graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade at 2011. As a scholar of the French government, she resided at l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the classes of professors Claude Closky and James Rielly. She is also a co-founding member of U10 Art Space in Belgrade, working on managing exhibitions and events. Marija has exhibited her work from Los Angeles to Vienna and is excited to be showcasing “In The Night Will You Follow Me” from 28th February till 15th March 2019 at the SAAS Gallery in London. Her collection “In The Night Will You Follow Me” represents young people lost in the moments of leisure, partying, and endless nightlife. Each painting of the series shows particular intimate moment, a fraction taken out of a bigger occurrence, positioning the viewer sometimes as a voyeur, sometimes inviting him into the space of the painting. The series raise the question about the thin line between pleasure and the self-destruction.
Abbott has grand future plans for the SAAS Gallery, looking to encompass international talents and promote both male and female artists, with emphasis on female artists as only 16% of female artists are represented in London galleries. The SAAS Gallery also looks to create a charity foundation to support female art students in London, allowing them a space to showcase their work and generate income from the promotion and sale of their artwork with 100% of the profits returning to the artist.
For more details on the gallery see online: saas-london.com