Only Elpis [Hope] was left within her unbreakable house, she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the lid of the jar. This was the will of aegis-bearing Zeus the Cloudgatherer. —Hesiod, Works and Days
Gagosian’s New York gallery reopened on November 12th 2020 after the pandemic-related shutdown in March displaying a not at all incidental exhibition but an extremely relevant .Jenny Saville’s exhibition titled “Elpis” stands for Hope in Greek and finds its roots at the ancient Greek poet Hesiod and its poem Work and days related to the myth of Pandora .
During her career the viewer has encountered clear references on Greek mythology . Her oeuvre draws inspiration from archaic Greek and classical sculptures , and how it couldn’t ? Jenny Saville is known for her large-scale painted depictions of nude bodies especially obese women whereas her radical techniques challenged the art world , and many times on her work we encounter the ambiguity of gender .
Her contribution to the contemporary figurative painting is pivotal , such as Egon Schiele was in the early 20th century . Back on 2014 Kunsthaus Zurich presented an exhibition displaying artworks of both of them , it was a dialogue among two artists who pay homage to the human body , they have a unique way of depicting it but also self-portray themselves quite often . In that exhibition paintings were imbued with eroticism , distinctive characteristic of both of their paintings . Jenny has been asked in an interview about that matter and declared the following :”It has become more and more important, I would say. Instead of erotic in a sexual sense, I would say erotic in a life force or drive.”
But on “Elpis” Saville forget for a while the bodies and focusing on portraying faces . A visit to Moscow , had her fascinated by people’s faces there , with no hesitation she booked a studio there and worked with photographs of the models she found more appropriate for this project .The vivid colour palette and the brushstrokes , the childish-like depiction of the faces , the innocence and the hope are so evident on the eyes of her portraits . You can profoundly feel that optimism and the gaze on the bright future .
The first painting I saw from the exhibition was Second Nature , 2020 and it literally hit me and blew my mind . Along with my collaborator photographer who has also drawing and painting skills we addressed the project of depict Jenny Saville’s work .He painted my face , took pictures and edited them . The result may seems not so close to her artworks but we wanted to make an ode to her astonishing work and pay homage to that woman , who is a living legend.
Images and painting Panagiotis Kadigkos
The exhibition will remain open until 22nd of December at Gagosian Gallery 980 Madison Avenue
New York, ny 10075
Eleni Kadigkou Xx