In Search of the Perfect Figure

Now this was never an intentional or the definitive hunt, however when I raided London earlier this week, I couldn’t help but check out the perfect figures I found on W1’s streets. For women such Jenny Saville and I (perhaps for other reasons;) never seem to be satisfied in their quests to find beauty in their natural forms. Acclaimed artists such as Jenny Saville, Sir Anthony Caro and others, are presently exhibiting in house-galleries off-the-museum-beaten-track around New Bond Street.

In this setting, Saville’s talent in proudly shown off, where it is not over talked, but the beauty of her ability to capture the human form is voiced with perfect clarity and umph. The pleasure is found in unearthing her there in Davies Street, and in discovering a new character and certain confidence in her drawings. Even the art novice, knows and recognises the beefy bulges and significant strokes of flesh in Jenny’s brash, brazen paintings – They are physically established, expressive, but static paintings. Her drawings from the ‘Reproduction’ series are a different matter. They still have evidence of the power of the artist’s hands, and they are still busy with visual activity – but the drawings buzz. They buzz with movement, with translucent layers of process.

These drawings wholly convinced me of her great skill with the contours of the body, that which she describes as “essential…having flesh as a central subject, I can channel a lot of ideas.” Drawings have the power to expose artists and their reliance on trial and error. Saville’s work is intuitive naked talent, so evident in slick composition and faultless animate mark making. Each part of the mother, and the child’s body is undeniably correct as well as beautiful.

For a different reason Ilona Szalay’s painting series ‘Naked’ is beautiful: her broad ranging and incredibly exciting technique. She uses paint to experiment with the human form. The paint bleeds beyond the control of the Saville’s graphic contours. Yet the figures do not dissolve into nothing, they are powerfully present. There is energy almost comparable to Cecily Brown. There are marks made, and then there are marks that have made themselves. This is perhaps most beautiful in the right breast of Nude in Profile (image above), where the mid, light and dark tones have helplessly bled into one very deliberate form.


Nude in Profile by Ilona Szalay

Reproduction I by Jenny Saville

Until May 15, Jenny Saville’s ‘Reproduction Drawings’ is at the Gagosian Gallery

Ilona Szalay’s work stays until 14 May at Whitfield Fine Art Gallery.

One Response to “In Search of the Perfect Figure”
  1. Cat says:

    'intuitive naked talent'- a beautiful and eloquent combination of words, really good!

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