Roundtable on Jenny Saville
Regrettably, we can’t offer a recording of the season finale of The Review Panel earlier this month in Brooklyn: our host’s equipment failed. But we are delighted to offer the transcript of a “roundtable” on Jenny Saville, conducted last week via email, with David Cohen, Julie Heffernan, Brenda Zlamany, Dennis Kardon, Walter Robinson, Barry Schwabsky, and Suzy Spence. Jenny Saville: Ancestors, at Gagosian Gallery, New York, on view through June 16, is the British artist’s first solo presentation in New York since 2011.
Well as a painter I was respectfully floored by that piling up of paint, plus wiping, scraping, knowing when to stop and when to pile more on. That’s not easy! In her earlier work I knew exactly how she made those paintings, but this new work is so layered and the decisions about when to stop and when to keep going so seamlessly articulated – that’s amazing painting. You try it!
You admire her bravura technique, but what is the project at the service of which she puts it? To me, the equations she makes between different kinds of representation and different kinds of abstraction, as well as between different kinds of imagery, seem pretty flat and familiar.
That’s such a weird question, Barry, “what is the project at the service of which she puts it?” Put the question aside and approach them more visually. There’s a lot of pleasure to be had and for that might to enough.
Pleasure is never enough.