Gallery focuses on women-only shows for one year
This September, LA gallerist Anat Ebgi launched an unheard of exhibition program committed to featuring only female artists for an entire year: a concerted effort to correct a persistent imbalance in the art world. According to Ebgi, “The exhibition program will serve as a template for the future of our gallery, as we take on more women artists who have a completely unique and uncanny use of material and gesture in their work. This idiosyncrasy with material and form is something that really drives me to work with, and discover, new female artists.” Ebgi goes on to point out that the percentage of women artists on commercial gallery rosters throughout the United States tends to linger at an iniquitous 30%, a bias she is challenging head-on.
In 2012, Ebgi opened her eponymous gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in Culver City, expanding her program and space to accommodate more ambitious projects. Last March her gallery was included at The Armory Show for the first time, exhibiting elegantly constructed material “paintings” by Luke Diiorio. Her roster is carefully curated, beautifully concise and features emerging and mid-career artists like Amie Dicke, Elias Hansen, Nicholas Pilato, Sigrid Sandström and Margo Wolowiec. Ebgi’s interest in process, materiality and the unavoidable inheritance of history is clear.
At 19, in Miami where she had grown up, she moved to a then-nascent arts district (before Wynwood existed as we know it) and was immersed in the burgeoning art scene there, living with artist friends and working as a preparator at the Miami Art Museum. She then relocated to New York City and began curating independently at 21, eventually completing a Master’s degree in Curatorial Studies at Bard. Upon graduating in 2008, an economically inauspicious time to say the least, Ebgi took a chance on LA. She soon opened her first space with partner Annie Wharton in November of that year in Chinatown. “The Company,”—the gallery’s name intended as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the ongoing financial collapse—was an ambitious undertaking given the moment, but it worked and set something in motion.
By this time, the young gallerist had already begun to do what she does best: establishing long-lasting, supportive and creatively fruitful relationships with artists, and had secured a following from her independent work as a curator in New York. This symbiotic growth of gallery and artist—the success of which is the true test of a dealer—speaks volumes to Ebgi’s efficacy as an old-school gallerist with vanguard tricks. As a case in point, Jen DeNike—a complex artist working in photography, performance and video to blur the boundaries between the choreographed and the observed—has been with Ebgi since the beginning, even figuring prominently as a subject of her Master’s thesis.
A solo exhibition of new works by Jen DeNike will open in November featuring new installations and videos that explore issues of gender, race and identity through familiar pop-cultural references and appropriated cinematic roles. Other female artists scheduled for 2016 include Margo Wolowiec, Samanatha Thomas, Amie Dicke and Sigrid Sandström. “The art world is a deeply unequal place for women,” says Ebgi, “I always remind myself of this… We decided to schedule a year of all-women shows not only to balance out this dynamic, but to also override notions of the male-centric nature of artistic production. [Galleries] are spaces to foster a community of artists, relevant ideas and narratives. I strive to do that.”
Images courtesy of Anat Ebgi gallery