Gagosian is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of the acclaimed young British painter Jenny Saville. Since first appearing on the London art scene in 1994 as the star of the Saatchi Gallery’s Young British Artists III and Sensation exhibitions, Saville has been recognized as one of the most thought-provoking and technically accomplished talents of her generation.
In this long-awaited exhibition of her new work, two years in the making, the distinctive nature of Saville’s giant, fleshy nudes is both surprising and provocative; her virtuoso nudes are reminiscent of the old masters, yet employed to question societal obsession with an idealized, almost robotic, image of the female form. By portraying these “images of extreme humanness” that are so out of place in an anxious culture obsessed with eternal youth and beauty, Saville confronts the very essence of what it means to have an active mind in a decaying, dying body.
Characteristic of Saville’s work, her paint becomes flesh as it evokes the feel and touch of the body, its smell and material presence. Freed from the conventions of feminine delicacy, her gargantuan figures cascade across the canvas and into the viewer’s physical space. The vast images of corpulent bodies are deliberately ambiguous as the paintings impose themselves on the viewer and surround the body that is looking at them. The viewer cannot escape the implications of their physical being.
A self-described “scavenger of images,” Saville usually prefers to work from photographs rather than living models. In her studio she likes to be surrounded by images; her figures are usually composites of several bodies. It is interesting to note that Saville once worked in a plastic surgeon’s office in New York and frequently visits a London medical museum as member of a pathology group. She shares with Francis Bacon a fascination for collecting pictures found in old medical journals of bruises, scars, gunshot wounds, deformities, and traces of disease that leave inscriptions on a body over time, like a memory, or a mark on a canvas.
This exhibition comprises six new paintings, including a vast meshed body pile similar to Shift, one of the works in the Sensation show. It also includes a painting of Del LaGrace Volcano, a hermaphrodite and one of the first of Saville’s subjects who is not a woman.
A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition.
Five Preoccupations: Jenny Saville
Jenny Saville shares a selection of the books, films, and more that have been her companions in the quiet of the shutdowns in recent months and as she looks ahead to a new exhibition next year.
Jenny Saville and Nicholas Cullinan
Jenny Saville speaks with Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, from her studio. They discuss portraiture, her latest work, and her art historical influences, as well as the shifting nature of perception in the age of digital communication.
Sally Mann and Jenny Saville
The two artists discuss being drawn to difficult subjects, the effects of motherhood on their practice, embracing chance, and their shared adoration of Cy Twombly.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2019
The Spring 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Red Pot with Lute Player #2 by Jonas Wood on its cover.
Jenny Saville Now
On the occasion of a major survey of the artist’s work, Dr. Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, studies the evolution of Jenny Saville’s practice.
July 22–28, 2020
In her depictions of the human form, Jenny Saville transcends the boundaries of both classical figuration and modern abstraction. Oil paint, applied in heavy layers, becomes as visceral as flesh itself, each painted mark maintaining a supple, mobile life of its own. As Saville pushes, smears, and scrapes the pigment over her large-scale canvases, the distinctions between living, breathing bodies and their painted representations begin to collapse.
Photo: courtesy the artist
Extended through July 23, 2018
May 3–July 23, 2018
West 21st Street, New York