Born in Cambridge, England Saville is a young figurative painter who loves to work large. She attended school at the Glasgow School of Art in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s. It wasn’t until 1994 that her career really began to take off, after exhibiting in the Saatchi Gallery. People knew her work as including large scale, nude female figures, that were painted in an unusual composition as to highlight the imperfections of the body. Her brushwork is amazing. Including both emotion, and a sense of movement her brushstrokes truly illuminate these women, and make their skin come alive on the canvas.
Saville usually focuses her work around overweight female figures as to make the most of her canvas by filling it up with endless waves of skin. Her works are definitely a bit unsettling, and even gory at times, however, her amazing technical skill combined with her own painterly style counteracts this and, somehow makes it beautiful. The perspective she observes these women from is usually very dramatic. It’s almost as though the viewer is on the floor looking upward at these women’s massive bodies. This emphasis on the size of them only reflects how many of the subjects she paints view themselves. These women view themselves as these large, unattractive individuals, and not many people can understand how they feel without weighing that much themselves.
She’s had many solo shows exhibiting her work all over the world. Some of these galleries include the Museum of contemporary Art in Rome, The Gagosian Gallery in New York, and the Eyestorm Gallery in London. Her first exhibition occurred in a group setting in Glasgow, Scotland at a Gallery called “The Burrell Collection”. Recently, she’s had many solo exhibitions throughout Italy since she currently resides, and works in Sicily.
One of my favorite series of hers was called “Closed Contact”. This work emerged from a team consisting of Saville, and a fashion photographer named Glen Luchford. In this series Saville wanted to replicate the anger and, frustration that occurs with reconstructive surgery. In a series of self portraits Luchford photographed Saville as she expressed the pain and agony of body dissatisfaction. The photographs were taken with her body mounted against plexiglass enhancing the massive size of her body to emphasize any imperfections. These works all allude a sense of tension, as Saville tugs on her bare skin with her nails, and contorts her face in a very discomforting way. There is something quite peaceful about these works however, it’s almost as though she is seen as a supernatural being existing in this world that is separated from our by glass as she dances across it. This piece like the rest of Saville’s works delves into the concept of what really makes a woman a woman, and, what people in our world today perceive as beauty.
Saville’s loud, fleshy figures will always be among my favorite figure paintings. Even though, they are a bit off putting I think that’s what make them so uniquely Saville’s. She’s not afraid to put out there what others are afraid to address. She’s courageous and, a truly talented artist that I can’t wait to see more work from.