I was first introduced to the work of Jenny Saville earlier this year on a great and lovely visit to Tate Modern. I was shown her work whilst browsing the excellent bookshop there, and was lucky enough to receive a brief but engaging introduction to the artists work. From there on in I was a fan and was glad to read and see any reference to her work.
On a brief trip to Oxford the other week I noticed a railway station advert for a Jenny Saville exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. So I had to go.
Jenny is from Oxford which I guess is maybe the reason she chose this city as the place for her first Solo Exhibition in a public gallery.
Upon entering the gallery, I was first struck by the size of her drawings and paintings. I never realised she worked on that scale. I was pleased by this because I could then revel in the brilliant loose daubs and strokes of paint she uses in her paintings. The scale made these even more impressive.
On display were a collection of some of her recent multi-aspect and multi-layered drawings and studies of mother and child. I had not seen these before so they quite surprised me. In the gallery’s main space you are presented with a good number of her most well known and recognised paintings: ‘Reverse’, ‘Torso II’, ‘Bleach’, ‘Hyphen’.
Her paintings are amazing to look at in a book, but wow, in person they are astonishing! I love her brush work; the strokes look completely randomly placed but create the image without effort. The colours used to highlight differing skin tone is so descriptive but is without question.
In ‘Bleach’ they eyes were so life like that I walked right up close to see what was reflected in them – I swear I could see a sea scape with jutting rocks. The light and life in them were incredible.
In her paintings I see absolute beauty; of form and colour. But I also see resigned apathy which makes some quite hard to look at I think. Like the people in them are waiting for you to challenge their resignation and their apathy. This is just my opinion though. I wonder what your thoughts are?
It is a really great exhibition and well worth a visit. Go and see it and let me know what you think.
The exhibition is on until 16th September.