Flesh is monumental in Jenny Saville’s paintings, something you can only truly appreciate when you’re dwarfed by a two metre high canvas that’s been slathered, scraped and smeared in fleshy tones and visceral reds.
Nothing beats seeing her paintings for real, yet this is her first exhibition in a public gallery in the UK since she hatched fully formed and critically acclaimed from the YBA hype of the 90s. A studio dweller rather than a publicity magnet, Saville has developed a body of work that’s as much about the anatomy of paint itself as it is about the anatomy of the (mostly female) body, and the results are both stark and intricate.
Ask today’s upcoming painters who inspires them and many will name check Saville. Along with this solo show at Modern Art Oxford, two of her drawings sit alongside the likes of Titian and Veronese at the Ashmolean. Not many contemporary artists could hold their nerve in such company, but Saville does.
i-D online’s Laura Bushell met Saville at the gallery to talk about YBAs, bodies and babies.