Exhibition on show till 25 Jan 2015: Kunsthaus Zurich
An incredible overview of works related to paintings and drawings of body and flesh, with a century between two artists. Around 100 works (drawings and oil paintings) are on show. Works of Egon Schiele and Jenny Saville were hanged not to contrast each other or to give the perception of an historical context, but rather to see how two artists in different centuries work on the topic of body, flesh, and self portrait in an own way in discovering and unfolding the topic.
In the context of my current course, I was more interested to see how they use drawing, lines, marks for a certain expression or mood. Both artists having similar objects (or subjects?) and both are expressing with strong outlines and marks the sense of emotion and body sensation.
I felt very impressed by the intimacy that the two artists convey through their widely different scale used. Jenny Saville uses very large scale to overwhelm, also the viewer need to keep a distance to observe. Egon Schiele used smaller scale where the viewer need to get closer to the picture, nearly passing the line towards intimacy and intrusion. Both of them are showing people, mostly self portraits, with the vulnerability, their desires, and their anxities. You can feel that here are real people drawn, not for pleasure, but for deep emotional expression. Jenny Saville goes further and uses oil paint a ‘fleshy’ medium with body to paint bodies, to carve on the body.
Especially two works kept my attention:
Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918)
Reclining Woman with Raised Skirt, 1914: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2011/may/16/egon-schiele-women-in-pictures#img-8
Egon Schiele is working with strong outline marks and only a few colors that highlight the contrast between forms. It is intensive work – you can feel the touch of the pencil on the body. The images express a sensation of temporary, a snapshot. It feels like an unstable condition, person is in movement. But it also shows the vulnerabilty of the woman, exposed to the artist and exposed to the viewer. Schiele captures with clear contour lines the expression of the woman.
Jenny Saville (1970 -)
Overlapping, superimposed drawings, movement of action, line marks that search for form. The idea of the picture plane is in discussion: What plane is where? What is final and what is temporary? In earlier works Jenny Saville experimented also with overlaying transfer papers to get this superimposed perception. In this drawing/painting I can feel that she mastered it further on just one paper surface with the same or even more expressive perception. Here the final image is the image of the drawing process as such, it could continue, just a snaphot. And by that it also shows the temporary moment that does not last. Saville stretches the question whether it is figurative or abstract. Her mark making leans on abstract experience, but her topic is truly figurative
In summary this exhibition is truly worth to see, and to get engaged with the works. The combinatio of the two artist gives another dimension to the topic, It shows how with different means expression and emotion can be achieved.
Reference and further reading:
- Egon Schiele: The Guardian 16 May 2011 http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2011/may/16/egon-schiele-women-in-pictures
- Jenny Saville: represented by Gagosian Gallery
- Jenny Saville: The Guardian 10 June 2012
- Jenny Saville: The Telegraph 24 June 2014
- Jenny Saville: Art Observed 26 July 2014
- Jenny Saville Facebook page