Jenny saville and the theatre of self-importance: Alexander Adams examines the reputation of one of the original young British artists

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between monumental and big. Likewise, painting something from a very close viewpoint (a Saville tic) does not convey monumentality or help us comprehend google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; the src="//"> mass of a figure.  Monumentality has nothing to do
with size; it has do with


the impression of size, which can be conveyed through adjusting the size of a motif relative
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the picture surface, elimination google_ad_width = 970; of detail, lowering the observer’s viewpoint of
the motif, reduction of colour,
simplification of form and emphasis on the mass of a motif. Picasso could achieve this

concisely in modestly sized paintings and drawings google_ad_height = 90;  (those of the Boisgeloup period, the Dinard bathers and the Gosol figures), as can any artist who applies the principles. Painting fat figures on large surfaces tells us nothing about fatness but it reveals the painter’s insecurity,


her need to bolster insubstantial depictions of bodies by expanding them to src="//"> cinema-screen scale.

Looking at Saville’s paintings is like opening the sketchbook of a teenage


art student. There
is the preoccupation

with “body issues”, a reliance on photographs, the modish twist of gender-change surgery and emulation of the most
obvious recent painters of the nude. Saville fails to realise that some great google_ad_width = 970; painters are bad influences and looking at artists you paint like (or aspire to paint like) can google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; be damaging practice. (The
recent drawn pastiches of Leonardo da Vinci show

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that Saville emulates rather than assimilates.) Saville’s
imagery often relates to surgery, including blood and wounds.

​ spoke about the beauty of wounds thus Saville

paints from surgical photographs.) Louise Bourgeois can make shocking and gripping images of bodies in small rough sculptures lacking virtuosity. google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; Bourgeois’s metaphors can


slip under the skin while Saville hammers away with ponderous literalness, emphatically insisting on the seriousness of her subject. There is neither setting nor context for figures because Saville likes painting flesh, so that is what she paints and it is all she paints.Yet flesh – like all substances – exists in /* 9-970x90 */ context.

Freud may have trouble with

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composition and proportion but he understands, and can paint, flesh. Saville cannot. Regardless of the ostensible
subject, the appearance of flesh is dictated by the period


of her style not any close observation and differentiation of subject. Her early paintings employ cloudy masses of conventional “flesh” tones.  Tangles of brushmarks,

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arranged to give //--> an impression of impetuosity,  make up her later paintings. The

seeming absence of
pentimenti in
the later paintings is because Saville’s formula is designed to give the impression of exploration and boldness. There is no need for revision because the subject is not