More about Strategy
Jenny Saville’s monumental canvases are meant to make you feel diminutive in size.
And it’s not just because the canvas dwarfs most professional basketball players in terms of height. Saville’s Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) portrays a lady of rather bulky proportions (she makes a Rubens figure look like a size 0…) from what feels like a worm’s eye view. It also kind of makes me want to let my muffin top hang out, loud and proud, over my broken-elastic, full-coverage providing panties.
But enough about my aged underwear…Saville’s work is all about the same kind of subject matter: BIG girls. Nothing wrong with that! Less definitely isn’t more in Saville’s case. People have mixed views about works like Strategy. Some think this is all a celebration of hedonistic excess shown through these extremely ample, fleshy forms. I’m not entirely on board with that theory. I’d have to side with the feminists' theory and say that Strategy, with the leveling gaze of the model, is designed to show the discrepancy between how women are represented in media and what a lot of women REALLY look like. Makes granny panties look like a fashion statement, too.
Strategy is also kind of reminiscent of Anthony van Dyck’s triptych of Charles I, where you have the same three angles of a less weighty and a less nude king. And, in spite of all the mixed feelings you may have regarding the conceptual indications of this work…one also begins to see the model as less of an individual, and simply as more of a towering fleshy form. A triple threat, if you will. The South Face/Front Face/North Face part of the title is a nod to mountaineering vocabulary and throws the mind into believing that this body needs proper geographical navigation. That’s just good painting! It’s the figure you can’t stop figuring out because there’s just so much of it.