Jenny Saville, another of the Brit-pack art stars whose paintings are among the highlights of the current "Sensation" show at the Brooklyn Museum, shines in this exhibition, her New York solo debut. Averaging about 10-by-20 feet, the six nudes on view are epic in scale and scope. The compositions are filled with flesh, but the work has nothing to do with realism.
In certain paintings, Saville uses an almost Cubist space, and some of these richly nuanced surfaces seem nearly abstract. As if to dispel the notion, stemming from the "Sensation" show, that she concentrates on female flesh alone, the artist, who once worked in a plastic surgeon's office, opens this exhibition with a transgender subject. Matrix is an imposing picture in which massive female breasts, thighs and genitalia seem to belong to a man, whose stubbly beard, shaved head and tattooed arm are clearly and superbly rendered.
Equally enthralling is Hyphen, a kind of double portrait, which the artist based on a childhood photograph of herself and her sister. In spite of the often overwhelming grandiosity of these canvases, Saville's works are in the end disarmingly intimate and full of feeling.
Jenny Saville, Oct. 2-Dec. 18, 1999, at Gagosian, 136 Wooster, New York, N.Y. 10012.