REVIEW: Gagosian – Jenny Saville and Nadja Romain

At the Gagosian gallery on London’s Britannia street, a new exhibition has been unveiled, on show until Oct 1st.

 

The opening night was filled with glamorous folk, many of them there to support the exhibition’s charity cause. ‘Artists for women for women’ is working to transform the lives of women in conflict zones by providing training in leadership, rights awareness, job skills and business in places like Afghanistan, Bosnia and South Sudan.

 

An impressive group of artists and aims to raise awareness of social issues within the art world

 

Artists for Women for Women International brings together an impressive group of artists and aims to raise awareness of social issues within the art world. Artists include Matthew Barney, Cecily Brown, Chuck Close, Michael Craig Martin, Tacita Dean, Tracey Emin, Teresita Fernandez, Anthony Gormley, Carsten Holler, Isaac Julien, Servane Mary, Andrei Molodkine, Farhad Moshiri, Tobias Rehberger, Bridget Riley, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Taryn Simon, Marcel Odenbach, and Francesco Vezzoli.

 

“In this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.”

On 15 October, Christie’s will auction each artist’s exclusively commissioned artwork for the launch of Artists for Women for Women International, in their Post War and Contemporary Day Sale during Frieze Art Fair.

 

The exhibition was introduced with a quote -

 “In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery.

In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism…

in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for

gender equality in the developing world.”

—Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

 

The show was organised by curator, writer and producer Nadja Romain as well as the renowned painter Jenny Saville, famous for her monumental ‘meat’ and flesh paintings of the human body. Saville’s work shows the chasm between reality and the way women feel about their bodies, portraying the ugliness and brutalness of the skin covering the women’s forms. Her contribution to the show was a large charcoal drawing, both beautiful and repulsive, drawing you in and repelling you backwards. (below)

 

As I took in the show, some of the art stood out – a beautiful Antony Gormley anthropomorphic inky drawing, a Carsten Holler photographic print of Rentierkopf (Reindeer Head), and a sculptural piece by Tobias Rehberger – a suspended sculpture using neon tubing, wire and strips of Velcro to contort into the form of ’Virus 5Y2F’.

What caught my attention most were two small, unimposing but powerfully palpable pieces. Teresita Fernandez’s ‘Nocturnal (Neon Miniature)’ is an abstract image with a slightly landscape feel, imparted by its mineral like surface and horizontal strata, made from solid graphite and acrylic on panel. If you discover her bigger, sculptural pieces you will be blown away by the physicality and texture this artist imparts in her artwork. She uses materials and forms that make the eye’s journey over her work an exquisitely tactile, haptic experience.

 

Another piece, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (double portrait after Man Ray)’ was made by Francesco Vezzoli, using inkjet print on canvas, embellished with metallic embroidery to make the two faces look as if crying metal tears, and a bespoke frame created by the artist to give the whole thing a sculptural edge.

 

“…bearing the signature patterns or forms of their creators, but not perhaps the flair and impressiveness of their full scale works.”

 

 

As is the nature of works donated to auction, some were exciting more because of the artists themselves: Playing to our familiarity and respect for their work by bearing the signature patterns or forms of their creators, but not perhaps the flair and impressiveness of their full scale works.

 

Whils overall the show had some fantastic and thought provoking pieces, some of the heavy-weight artist’s works left me distinctly unimpressed. Without the monumentality or carefully defined geometric pattern of her op-art paintings, the Bridget Riley piece on show became just a pretty stripy canvas. But, all for a good cause, and certainly on track to fetch a good price at auction.

 

What makes an artwork good – the artist who created it or the work itself? We all know the real answer, but what makes an artwork valuable? Now that’s often a very different question.

 

Michael Craig Martin

 

Tacita Dean

 

Tracey Emin

 

________________________________________________________

Nicola Anthony is an artist living & working in London, seeking to discover things which make her mind crackle with creative thought. Catch @Nicola_Anthony on twitter, or her artist’s blog

 

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About Nicola Anthony

London and Singapore based artist, art writer, sculptor, lecturer. I create sculpture & drawing, write for art journals and magazines, create events & connect people. http://www.NicolaAnthony.co.uk I also co-ordinate the Edible Art Movement. http://www.edibleartmovement.com

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