I am more attracted to artists who are a bit more controversial. Something that is seen as being controversial gives it more of a taboo effect which adds to the appeal immensely. Like Yeo, Saville has a very questionable vision which she portrays in her work.
She looks at the figure like I do but in a totally contrasting way. Whereas I focus on a more idealised figure, Saville looks at the figure in a very raw and unforgiving way.
She paints enormous canvases of naked women primarily. These women are mostly very large and she has them posing in rather uncomfortable looking positions.
I have taken images from Jenny Saville’s official website and also looked at the Saatchi Gallery website whilst doing my artist research:
She paints these women as though they are just large pieces of meat. There is no happiness or joyous feelings when I look at them. I feel uncomfortable and unhappy. I find them grotesque and in a way unnessary. I suppose it is a perverse curiosity that makes you want to look and the question of, Why?
Why does she paint these women in such a way? Does she think society looks at these women in this way? Is this how she feels within herself?
Why does she present the human flesh in such a way that makes it look gross?
I don’t believe she is glorifying obesity anymore than Yeo is glorifying porn, but they are definitely trying to express something.
I found a statement from an interview back in 2014 about her reasoning for painting such a shocking portrayal of human flesh. And actually it is a very simple and refreshing statement;
I paint flesh because I’m human. If you work in oil, as I do, it comes naturally. Flesh is just the most beautiful thing to paint. I like the down and dirty side of things. I don’t like things to be too polished. We’ve got fashion magazines for that.
Saville is right…magazines present perfection, or what we as a society see as perfection thanks to the media. So she wants to look at the more gritty side of things, the side we don’t particularly want to see, or at least don’t want to admit we would rather not see.
Sometimes she paints several figures together and the women sometimes look as though their bodies have been molded into one almost.
I think what makes these paintings even more shocking is size of the canvases they are done on. But yet she still manages to give the effect these large women can barely fit within the dimensions of the canvas she paints on.
The folds of skin and the way she has them scrunching up handfuls of fatty flesh is quite disturbing. The women are often pressed awkwardly against a clear surface with their face and body in uncomfortable looking positions.
I find her work more interesting than anything else. Because initially it is hard to understand why she paints what she does. I don’t enjoy looking at her work and I think to see them in real life on the scale which they are painted would be even more shocking and spectacular.