“The Savilles are stunning… They are more than representations of the human form, they are somehow about the experience of being human”.
★★★★ The Scotsman
The third instalment of NOW featured a major survey of works by renowned British artist Jenny Saville, spanning some 25 years of the artist’s career across five rooms.
Bringing together 17 works from private and public collections across the globe, this was the first museum exhibition of Saville’s work ever to be held in Scotland, and only her third in the UK. The selection spans 26 years, from iconic early paintings such as Propped (1992) and Trace (1993-4), to recent charcoal and pastel drawings, demonstrating how Saville’s approach to depicting the human body has shifted over the course of her career. Other highlights included a series of large-scale head paintings, such as Rosetta II (2005-6), made while the artist was based in Italy.
Image: Jenny Saville, Rosetta II, 2005-06 © Jenny Saville. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian.
Saville draws upon a wide range of sources in her work, including medical and forensic text books, children’s drawings, graffiti and online images, as well as celebrated paintings and drawings of the past. In more recent years, Saville has created works in which she layers images, often drawing on several different sources. Working between the figurative and abstract, she has chosen to use charcoal and pastel in many of these works, attracted by the transparency they offer. These materials allow Saville to work organically, layering and erasing her media to blend and merge bodily forms and abstract gestures. The resulting works, such as One out of two (symposium) (2016), capture a sense of motion and fluidity. These restless images provide no fixed point, but rather suggest the perception of simultaneous realities.
Alongside the work of Jenny Saville will be new and recent works by five artists who have explored ideas related to the body, performance, process and materials.
South African artist Robin Rhode’s contribution features six multi-part photographic works in which he uses colour theory and geometry to explore art as a tool for communication. Rhode, who won the prestigious Zurich Art Prize 2018, combines a number of disciplines and ideas in his work, including drawing, performance, street art, modernism and the work of Eadweard Muybridge, the Victorian photographer famous for his pioneering studies of figures in motion. The works on show here capture Rhode’s interventions at a specific site in Johannesburg, known for its gang culture and violence, where Rhode has made work since 2011. Rhode’s beautiful and sometimes playful photographic images (which depict a performer interacting with, and animating, wall paintings made by the artist) are an insistence of the power of art to create new realities, and have a strong collaborative ethos, driven by the artist’s close engagement with the young people living in the area.
Christine Borland’s Positive Pattern was originally commissioned by the Institute of Transplantation, Newcastle to honour the courage and generosity of organ donors and their families, who help save and transform the lives of hundreds of people every year. Comprising five abstract sculptures produced in dense foam, this poignant and powerful work renders in three dimensions the interior spaces of carved wooden sculptures by the British sculptor Barbara Hepworth (1903-75), including Wave (1943-44), which is held in the National Galleries of Scotland collection.
Four painted metal sculptures and wall-based works by Sara Barker show the ways in which the Glasgow-based artist layers materials and processes to investigate the act of making. Barker breaks apart the traditional categories of painting, sculpture and drawing, combining these and other techniques such as collage in her practice. Influenced by writers such as Virginia Woolf and Jeanette Winterson, Barker’s works are often concerned with both physical and mental spaces.
The compelling two-screen video work Orient 2011 by Austrian artist Markus Schinwald, created for the artist’s solo presentation for the Austrian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, is exhibited for the first time in Scotland. In Orient five actors are captured in a modern ruin performing gestures and movements drawn from slapstick and modern dance. The two-part work features an atmospheric soundtrack and narrated texts, spoken off-set by two voices simultaneously, producing a layering of sound and words. The film explores the role of physical, bodily gestures in conveying the complex inner workings of the mind.
Edinburgh-based artist Catherine Street presents a new installation of works entitled A hoarding of greenery, a flow of redemption which explores the contrast between thinking and sensing and comprises a new single channel video, a text piece, a series of collages and a spoken-word performance, which will be staged by the artist during the run of the exhibition.
Accompanying NOW is a group display drawn from the National Galleries of Scotland collection, including works by Oladele Bamgboye, Miroslav Balka, Alex Dordoy, Alexis Hunter and Francesca Woodman, until 22 May 2018. This will be followed by the Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools, which opens on Saturday 26 May and runs until 16 September 2018.
The NOW series of exhibitions was launched in March 2017 and reflects the Gallery’s ambition to share contemporary art with a wide audience, highlighting the extraordinary quality and range of work being made by artists associated with Scotland, across the UK and internationally, and placing art created in Scotland in an international context.
The presentation of Jenny Saville’s work is supported by the Jenny Saville Exhibition Circle - our thanks to: Gagosian; George Economou; the Amoli Foundation, Hong Kong; The Broad Art Foundation; Modern Forms and other donors who wish to remain anonymous.
NOW is being made possible thanks to the support of the National Galleries of Scotland Foundation, Kent and Vicki Logan, Walter Scott and Partners Limited, Robert and Nicky Wilson, and other anonymous donors.
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