In a fusion of ancient mythology and modern digital landscapes, artist Jenny Saville is set to unveil her latest exhibition, Ekkyklema, at the Gagosian gallery in London on November 30. The show delves into the intersection of our material and screen-based worlds, exploring the mysterious moment of conception while drawing inspiration from Greek tragic drama.
The title, Ekkyklema, references a wheeled platform used in ancient Greek theater to reveal interior scenes to the audience, symbolizing the artist’s quest for a visual language that grapples with our simultaneous existence in tangible and digital realms. Saville’s work is influenced by colossal digital displays seen in stadiums, akin to religious spectacles, where she dissects body parts into angular panels reminiscent of computer screens. This pictorial system, developed over the past year, intricately combines figuration and abstraction, reflecting both ancient and digital worlds simultaneously.
The paintings in Ekkyklema feature reclining figures reminiscent of Danaë, a character from Greek mythology whose story has been depicted by renowned artists like Rembrandt and Titian. Saville’s palette is drawn from watercolor studies capturing the changing light and colors of the Greek sky at sunset. Her fragmented portraits, reminiscent of Picasso’s Cubism, convey a sense of frenzied motion and multiple perspectives, offering glimpses into past, future, and alternative realities.
Jenny Saville: Capturing the Complexity of the Human Form
Jenny Saville, born on May 7, 1970, in Cambridge, England, is a renowned contemporary artist celebrated for her powerful and visceral explorations of the human body. Her extraordinary ability to capture the complexity of the human form has established her as one of the leading figurative painters of her generation.
Saville’s artistic journey began at the Glasgow School of Art, where she studied from 1988 to 1992. During her time there, she developed a distinctive style characterized by bold, expressive brushwork and a keen focus on the human figure. Her early works often depicted the human body in unconventional and challenging ways, challenging traditional notions of beauty and aesthetics.
In 1992, Saville gained widespread recognition with her participation in the influential exhibition “Young British Artists III” at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Her striking and provocative paintings drew attention for their raw emotional impact and bold exploration of corporeal themes. One of her most iconic pieces, “Plan,” showcased a distorted, fragmented body, challenging viewers to confront the discomforting realities of the flesh.
Saville’s work is deeply influenced by art history, especially classical and Renaissance traditions, and her paintings often reference famous works while subverting their conventions. Her ability to merge classical techniques with contemporary sensibilities has garnered praise from critics and art enthusiasts alike.
Over the years, Saville’s artistry has evolved, encompassing a wide range of mediums and themes. She is particularly acclaimed for her monumental paintings of the nude figure, capturing the nuances of flesh, skin, and emotion with exceptional detail and sensitivity. Her exploration of the human body goes beyond mere representation; it delves into themes of identity, vulnerability, and the impact of societal standards on self-perception.
Saville’s works are held in esteemed collections globally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tate Gallery in London. Her contributions to the art world have earned her numerous accolades and exhibitions, solidifying her status as a trailblazer in contemporary figurative art. Through her art, Jenny Saville continues to challenge perceptions, inviting viewers to confront the intricacies of the human experience with unflinching honesty and profound insight.
Top Photo: JENNY SAVILLE Ekkyklema II, 2023 Photo © 2023 Jenny Saville courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Exhibition Information: Ekkyklema by Jenny Saville, Gagosian Davies Street, London, November 30 onwards