The pop-up runs for 30 days starting October 7.
According to a recent article in Artnet, female artists account for less than 2% of the art sold at auctions over the past decade. It’s an abysmal statistic but one that Toronto-based artist Nuria Madrenas wants to play a role in changing with MRKT Gallery, an online platform for female-made art.
As an illustrator herself, she realized early on in her career that there was a huge disparity between women and men in the art world. “On average, female-made art is usually sold at 40% less than what the male equivalent would be,” she says. “So not only is the sheer volume much less but also the actual value that people are placing on female-made art is much less as well. So overall there are several challenges and barriers for female artists.”
To create a space where women’s art could be represented with the aim of getting it sold, Madrenas launched MRKT Gallery in December 2019. The website now carries work by dozens of female-identifying artists in Canada, the United States, the UK, Malaysia and other countries around the world, and is partnering with the Art Gallery of Ontario on a virtual pop-up this month.
Minimalist line drawings, fashion illustrations and female silhouettes feature prominently amongst the offerings on the site, which Madrenas says are the most popular pieces. So the artists she looks to add to her expanding roster are those whose aesthetic and style matches what the MRKT consumers are looking for.
“We want to make sure when we bring on a new artist that it’s going to be a viable platform for them to actually get their work sold. Because if their style doesn’t align with what our customers are looking for then we don’t want to prohibit them from selling on other platforms that may be a better fit for them.”
Artists carried by MRKT include Toronto-based Brazilian illustrator Luiza Albertini, London-based Japanese artist June Mineyama-Smithson, and Canadian artists like Chantal Walkes, whose art explores themes of culture and identity, and Rachel Joanis, a digital illustrator known for her use of bright, saturated colours.
MRKT Gallery’s aim is to “merge creativity and commerce” by offering not only a platform for emerging artists to share their work and develop a following but also by ensuring that 50% of the profits go straight to the artist.
“We manage all the printing, framing, packaging and shipping,” she explains. “Our artists provide us with the files or the original works of art that they choose to sell, and we manage everything from there. So all the leg work is taken off their plate. And after those costs associated with it, the profits are split 50-50.”
In an effort to garner more visibility for female artists, MRKT Gallery has teamed up with the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) for a virtual pop-up. Starting October 7 and running for 30 days, a curated selection of 14 prints will be available to purchase on the museum’s website. The 9×12″ size prints, which typically run for $65 on the MRKT Gallery website, will be sold at an exclusive price of $50 at the AGO pop-up.
While the pandemic has decreased or entirely eliminated footfall in galleries and museums, Madrenas says people seem to be on the hunt for affordable art, considering how much time they’re now spending at home.
“People are looking around their homes and thinking ‘I need to fill this blank wall’ or ‘maybe I’ll finally get around to decorating my home office or guest room now that I’m using it more’ or whatever it may be. Also, many people are moving out of the city and into larger spaces on the outskirts of the city. With larger space comes more walls and more room for decoration.”
If artwork to brighten up your surroundings is something you’re on the lookout for, take a peek at some of the prints on offer at the MRKT Gallery x AGO pop-up in the gallery below.