Those cynics little persuaded by the manifesto for gender equality in the developing world have Jenny Saville’s latest exhibition to face up to. An original YBA, the queen of frank British portraiture is sure to cause a ‘sensation’ with her A-Z of renowned artists, invited to create brand spanking new works of art destined for a charity auction at Christie's; including pieces from sculptor Antony Gormley, Op-art pioneer Bridget Riley and Royal Academician Tracey Emin.
Fellow producer and past collaborator Nadja Romain explains Artists for Women’s good intentions of raising “awareness of social issues within the art world” and how funds from artworks public sale will travel direct to Women for Women International’s sponsorship scheme where women, families and communities can rest assured they’ll be provided with access to ‘basic human rights like health care, food and education.’ Haters watch out.
Dazed Digital: What was the inspiration behind your own piece to be auctioned at Women for Women?
Jenny Saville: An image of a pregnant woman can be full of hope for the future. It's also a universally human image, as we all began in someone's womb.
DD: Does your own work totally reject idealised beauty or aim to change the viewer’s perception of what beauty is?
Jenny Saville: I try to make interesting paintings that are visually exciting. I don't think about a viewer’s reaction when I'm working, I just work and follow my instinct. Looking at a variety of source material that falls outside of traditional art history, like medical and forensic photography, has helped me see the body without the styles and veils of traditional artistic beauty - as the intention of the medical photograph is to display the body as clearly as possible.
DD: Do you think the art world’s attitude to the female form has changed for the better in recent years?
Jenny Saville: There are more woman artists, gallerists, curators working in the art world and so the type of art that circulates in this world is now more diverse. What needs to increase are women collectors.
DD: Ultimately would your say you’re neither concerned with female or male form but gender neurosis?
Jenny Saville: I find all types of human forms interesting, but I especially like to work with bodies that manifest in their flesh contemporary life. I often work with models that display a sense of inbetween-ness.
DD: Today are female artists liberated to paint in their own voice without the stigma of being seen to paint from a male perspective?
Jenny Saville: Over the last thirty years or so there has been a growth in the diversity of artists’ voices and practices, both male and female, and that has to be to the benefit of culture in general. I don't think there’s a singular male voice and a singular female voice as all voices are different and have their own perspective.
DD: How did you choose the artists that would exhibit in Women for Women?
Jenny Saville: Nadja Romain and I put a list together of international artists we admired and wrote them letters inviting them to participate in the exhibition and to donate their work. We had an overwhelmingly positive response for the project and I'm so grateful to all those artists that are taking part.
DD: How will the money raised actually be spent to support women internationally?
Jenny Saville: Funds raised will be used to give women access to the one year program run by Women for Women International. This program gives women access to knowledge on sexual and legal rights, general health, managing businesses and encouraging women to participate in their local communities and the education of their children. Ultimately it's part of rebuilding nations after years of war have ravaged communities. The programs are specifically designed to help women move from being victims of war into being autonomous and empowered.
DD: Lastly, do you think there’s also an issue with both genders reactions to the male nude?
Jenny Saville: I couldn't begin to speculate on someone else's reaction to the male nude. Our contemporary culture doesn't seem to display and celebrate the naked male body to the same extent that other periods of human history have - like in ancient Greece for example. It would be wonderful to see more male flesh.
Artists for Women International, 27th September to 1st October, 10am-6pm daily, at Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia Street, London, WC1X 9JD