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Jenny Saville
[English & Italian Texts]

Edited by Danilo Eccher
October 2005
Distributed By Trans-Atlantic Publications
127 Pages, Illustrated. 6 3/4 x 9 3/4"
$56.50 Paper

Italo Calvino wrote eloquently of his struggle to prevent his prose from being burdened with "the weight, the inertia, the opacity of the world." The inimitable beauty of the results, in such works as Invisible Cities and Mr. Palomar, is enough to convince us that the struggle, nowhere evident in the writing itself, was well conceived. Jenny Saville has taken the other path; far from simply passively accepting this weight, inertia, and opacity, her paintings take them on with joy, indeed with what can only be called a sort of wild and unreasonable love.

Saville embraces heaviness on many levels. The paintings for which she is best known are materially heavy-thick with paint and of impressive dimensions, and then the women she depicts in them are ones we perceive as heavy. All this is evident, but in addition there is the less easily verified matter of the paintings' mood or tone; and this, too, I would say, can be described as heavy. Reviewers have spoken of "repulsion," "brutalized feminity," and an abject self-image" - psychological and existential states which are, to say the least, difficult to take lightly. The bodies in Saville's paintings - and for that matter the paintings themselves, with their rough, implacable surfaces - may not be what most people would call beautiful, but they can't be denied their grandeur.




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