Thursday, 2 December 2010

Research - Jenny Saville and Paula Rego

At the end of Assignment 1, my tutor suggested that I looked at the work of Jenny Saville and Paula Rego before the drawing figures section. Luckily, I was familiar with both of these artists as I love their styles.

Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville studied at Glasgow School of Art, which is one of the reasons I was familiar with her before. Interestingly though I've never come across any of her work in the museums and galleries in the area.

Her huge figure paintings are at times grotesque and shocking. Apparently she started her fascination with the larger female body while on a scholarship at Cincinnati. She was ‘interested in the malls, where you saw lots of big women. Big white flesh in shorts and T-shirts. It was good to see because they had the physicality that I was interested in.’ She later worked in New York where she was able to observe the practise of a plastic surgeon and was part of the famous Sensations exhibition Royal Academy of Art in 1997 alongside Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst to name but a few.

Her style is often compared to Lucian Freud, and like him she doesn't depict the human form in a falsely beautiful way, rather she exaggerates every lump and bump. She works from images rather than models giving her larger than life size figures exaggerated pigmentation and distorted mass. She paints not only extremes in size but also deformities and patients undergoing surgery. 

Branded 1992, 7' X 6'

Strategy(south face front face north face) 1993-4 274x640cm

Propped 1992 213.5 x 183cm

The way she describes the flesh with the paint is amazing, I would love to see these paintings in real life to see the texture.

What can I take from these paintings......they way she exaggerates body parts for effect is very interesting. In "Propped" above she has exaggerated the perspective by making the figures knees much bigger. She has a message in her paintings. These are not just beautiful nudes painted for decoration and the pleasure of the viewer. These paintings are done in such a way to make the viewer think about what they are looking at. These women are painted in an unromantic and realist way. This is life and its not glamorous. I think she's challenging the viewer to question what they think as "normal". If a child with a birthmark is seen as shocking then there is surely something wrong with our society and our perceptions of normal.

Red Stare Head IV, 2006-2011 252 x 187.5 cm
She also has a number of drawings. She draws each figure multiple times erasing and superimposing them on each other. She leaves the changes visible making them part of the drawing. This results in very dynamic drawings which in the case of her series inspired by Leonardo's cartoons, play on the static Renaissance nativity images that they are based on.

Reproduction Drawing IV after the Leonardo cartoon 2010
Time II 2010

Paula Rego

Rego was born in Portugal, cared for by her Grandmother for a large part of her childhood until she moved to the UK to be with her parents.  Her grandmother taught her many of the traditional folktales that she based much of her future art work on. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1952-6.

She is most well known for her pastels, paintings and prints often depicting folk tales.

Snow White Playing with her Father's Trophies 1995 pastel 178x150cm

Dog Woman 1994 Pastel on canvas 120 x 160 cm
Dancing ostriches 1995 162 x 155cm Pastel on paper mounted on aluminium

Dancing ostriches 1995 Pastel on paper mounted on aluminium 150x150cm
These pastels are fantastic. I actually thought that they were oils before I studied them. The highlights on the limbs are lovely and like Degas she has used a directional hatching technique. Her figures are strongly described and quite clearly delineated to the point where there is a black line round some of her dancers. Her style is very different from that of Jenny Saville who sculpts flesh with the paint. Rego's flesh seems quite smooth. Like Saville though, Rego exaggerates the forms. The heads and features in particular seem quite distorted. The women are all very masculine and muscly even the usually dainty ballet dancers.
Unlike Degas, her technique with pastels seems more blended, at least the underneath layers. There is no ground showing through giving a very finished look to the pieces. "Dog woman" looks less refined that the others, much looser, possibly because of the surface as this was done on canvas which must give a bumpy texture for pastels and would make it difficult to give that clean blended look.

She has done many etchings and is known as a printmaker.     

Drawing for 'The Dance' 1988 pen and ink 296x421mm
Flood 1996 etching and aquatint on paper 395x335mm
The Tate website has this to say about her drawings....."Pen and ink drawing on machine-made white cartridge paper......The images have been drawn in pen and brush, with ink washes of mainly one or two shades of brown and a few splashes of diluted black in the sky and shadows. The support is slightly buckled where the ink washes have been applied."

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