Sunday, September 13, 2009

I've been assigned to blather on a bit about a piece, and I have chosen this one: "Hyphen," by Jenny Saville. She is by far my favorite artist and "Hyphen" is pretty high up on my list of "Paintings that I think are pretty neat."
I wanted to talk about this piece for my first assignment because, as stated above, of my admiration of Saville and her work. Not to mention that, I'm sure if I ever saw this piece in real life I would probably immediately cream my pants in admiration. I own a book with a lot of her work in it, and I can barely contain myself while looking at the close up photos that really allows you to see the brush strokes.
I know what you're thinking, and the answer is "no."
That's just plain weird.
I don't think that I'm going to go into much of an analyzation because this assignment doesn't really call for that, and that's a good thing because Saville's work, especially the early stuff like this one, has a lot to do with Feminist Theory. Before you get angry: I'm not trying to bash Feminism, I'm just saying that it is fortunate that I don't have to analyze it because I am a guy. And being a guy, my capability to properly analyze Feminist Theory is about as good as a roofer's shot at being a proctologist.
Anyway, aside from Feminist Theory, which dominates most of Saville's early work, she works a lot with paint itself. Her later work provides better examples of this, works like "Passage," and "Torso 2," but they seem to loose their realistic quality, which I am most interested in. But I feel that this "realistic quality" is something that Saville grew less interested in as her interest in paint itself grew. "Hyphen" is however, a prime example of her ability to combine abstract brush work and realism.
Saville thinks of paint as flesh and uses it accordingly. Looking at "Hyphen" you can see the seemingly frantic, bold brush strokes and how they, despite their untidiness, inform the shape of the faces allowing you to really see their form. All of this really shows our own patches of flesh poured over our bodies. The brush strokes themselves could also speak to the imperfection of our flesh and bodies, which is another theme that can be identified in Saville's work.
The color choices found in the analogous scheme of this piece also present the illusion of flesh, especially in the possible use of burnt sienna and blue mixed with white to present, although subtle, the value of skin. This drab color, juxtaposed, with the warmer vibrant colors is just like the wide ranges of colors that can be found in everyone's flesh.
As previously stated, "Hyphen" is just one of my favorite examples of Saville's work, and although this was not very in depth, I would like to invite anyone who's interested to check out more of her work because it is all really neat. Her work has evolved quite a bit since the early 90s when Charles Saatchi bought her senior show, in its entirety, and set her career on its way. I am quite interested to see where she goes next.


  1. I've seen this woman's work before, but never connected the dots. Her other pieces are amazing too. Don't worry about freaking out about her work, I feel the same way about a few artists myself. I'm relieved to hear that someone else appreciates realism/distinct emotive brushwork.

  2. Your writing speaks strongly to your appreciation of this artists work, but hopefully over the semester we will give you better descriptive terms of joy than 'cream in my pants'. Especially if it is in regards to a feminist work - which i think you might find it actually interesting. Feminism is about grit, about flesh, about being - the rawness of being.

    Over time it will make more sense.

    Love the art piece itself and your enthusiasm.