Gagosian Gallery has announced “Summer Show,” a group exhibition featuring work by Tom Friedman, Douglas Gordon, Damien Hirst, Mike Kelley, Alec Soth, Franz West, and Jenny Saville, all chosen for their emphasis on the physical form. While possessing an affinity for the monumental, Jenny Saville’s work dominates Gagosian’s Summer Show both in terms of size and talent. Saville has been recognized as one of the most thought provoking and technically accomplished talents of her generation. Characteristic of Saville’s work, her paint becomes flesh as it evokes the feel and touch of the body, its smell and material presence.
After a visit to her brother’s farm in England, Saville found and photographed the corpse of a dead pig. The outcome of her photographs was Suspension, a painting of a slaughtered pig with its bloated stomach splayed across a huge canvas overtaking Gagosian’s back wall. The subject matter explodes out of the canvas and into the viewer’s physical space. Saville is known for paintings of grotesques in which she exploits the organic qualities of paint that compose her semi-abstract corporeal figures. She calls herself a ‘scavenger of images’ as she prefers to work from photographs rather than living models. Saville shares this fascination for collecting pictures with Francis Bacon, as they both cover their studio walls with images found in old medical journals of bruises, scars, gun shot wounds, pictures of deformities, and traces of disease which leave inscriptions on a body over time, like a memory, or a mark on a canvas.
Marked by broad, swift brush strokes, Suspension is firmly rooted in the physical world of blood and decay. Her expressionistic style is characterized by her paint handling, in which she is able to loosely but expertly render a physical form. Saville is also a notably intuitive painter, as she allows for drips and areas of transparency to remain in her finished pieces. Reminiscent of the paintings of Chaim Soutine, Saville was drawn to this subject matter because of her interest in the medical world’s use of pig organs for human transplant as well as cloning. With Saville’s handling, this potentially revolting subject is disturbing yet glorious.