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Jenny Saville and the Hyperreality operating room

lunedì 26 maggio, 2008.

I’d like to say a few words about Jenny Saville, an English artist.

Unfortunately, save for a class of modern art I attended at the university, I am really just a neophyte in this field. Some images, though, don’t need a critical mediation to penetrate under your skin. Because this is what I’m talking about. Seeing is believing: just search the Google images section. Type her name and take a look at her works. The subjects she deals with are all but familiar to everyone of us: operating rooms, plastic surgery, transsexuals, morgues, along the lines of celebrated television series like Nip/Tuck, C.S.I., Dr. House, or Six Feet Under. Blind, mutilated people, bodies whose gender is undecipherable, pictures that faithfully convey the process of emotional numbing at the sight of human flesh and blood, a gift kindly bestowed upon us by the “modern age”. The picture shown above is called Reverse… the details are so strong that they express everything: life, birth, death… because everything pulsates, not just life. Even death can be pulsating.

I am trying to convert something which is not commonly held as beautiful through a process of sublimation. I am mostly interested in the relation between flesh and painting. If I set out to make the portrait of a transvestite, it is because that body is a kind of mirror of the times we live in, a body which is a mixture of natural and artificial.

My guess is: while the cubist painters used to collapse the figures, deconstructing them, Jenny Saville immortalizes (for these bodies are already dead, or maybe they were never alive in the first place, just like clones) the very same processes which mark and corrode the bodies and the flesh in the real life. What we find in her works is our naked shell, analysed under the lens of a painting style incredibly thick and vivid in its completely detached, almost surgical matter-of-factness. One might feel repulsed or sickened, but the prevailing feeling is one of curiosity.

To think that most of the lines on the highways are caused by people, slowing down to take a look at car crashes, goes a long way toward explaining the nature of human curiosity.

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6 commenti leave one →
  1. giovedì 29 maggio, 2008. 17:14

    Wow, congratulations for your article…
    When you have been to England I haven’t noticed you can speak english that good.
    Are you taking some lesson?
    See you soon mate, keep in touch.

  2. sabato 31 maggio, 2008. 23:18

    Devo semplicemente ringraziare axolotl per la preziosa traduzione e la prestigiosa collaborazione.

  3. giovedì 30 ottobre, 2008. 1:07

    really love that you were also completley exasberated by saville’s works.
    my favorite is ‘host’
    but it was very funny i was reading your article at the bottom there is an advertisement for ‘5 tips to get a flat tummy’… just the irony of the subjct matter of saville

  4. giovedì 6 novembre, 2008. 12:40

    @ lauren: where are you from, if I may ask? I thought “exasperated” meant something like “deeply annoyed”, but since you seem to appreciate Saville’s works as much as I do, I guess that “exasperated” might also have a positive meaning -in your hometown, at least… 🙂

  5. mercoledì 17 ottobre, 2012. 22:54

    Hello there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will
    forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good
    read. Thanks for sharing!

  6. mercoledì 2 gennaio, 2013. 23:12

    Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks

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