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Drawings & Notes

19 August 2022
Ilana Savdie | Me meneaba la cintura, 2022 | Pen and acrylic on paper, 61 x 45.7 cm

Ilana Savdie

Me meneaba la cintura, 2022
Pen and acrylic on paper
61 x 45.7 cm

Ilana SavdieIn Jest
8 July – 11 September 2022
White Cube Bermondsey

Ilana Savdie
Mamita mamita, rica y apretadita, 2022
Oil, acrylic and beeswax on canvas stretched on panel
182.9 x 170.2 cm

Ilana Savdie
Paraphyletics, 2022
Pen and acrylic on paper
61 x 45.7 cm

[from the pressrelease]
Expanding on the carnaval tradition of her native Colombia, a subject she has worked with in the past, in this group of paintings Savdie introduces theatrical themes relating to the circus through the repeating motifs of a curtain, a hoof, a ball, a hoop (sometimes becoming a hole or portal), and in the suggestion of stretching, hanging and reaching bodies. Savdie’s fascination with performance is focused on destabilising agents and excessive modes of behaviour, and her visceral, dream-scape paintings celebrate the jester, the trickster, the parasite, the witch and the clown. As Savdie describes it: ‘They are always protesting, always resisting, always questioning power, and they are doing it through a grotesque exaggeration of themselves, their bodies, their failure to be legible, their needs and desires, their oppression, their social norms, their language, it is a mockery of all of it. They mock binaries, especially the idea of good and evil.’

Using fluid, layered, and discursive forms that dance across the canvas, her compositional arrangements are a riot of parasitic, disassembled bodies, ungrounded and endlessly evolving. A display of superabundance and enumeration, entrails, orifices, tissue, muscles, ribs, bones and joints are fused with less decipherable forms that might be some kind of basic organic matter. Worms, slugs, parasites or amoeba are shape shifting entities that destabilise the pictorial status quo, creating disarray and dissolution. Proportions and relative sizes do not adhere to their norms, so that everything appears equal in importance, heightening this structural undoing of the composition.

Drawing on the idea of the genuine or any fundamental authenticity at the heart of performance, Savdie sees role-play as a powerful force that opens a space of belonging for those at the margins of society, and equally, as a mechanism for self-discovery. Themes of perversion, inversion and contamination are celebrated through hybrid, physical matter that amalgamates forms, colours and textures in a single, horizontal plane. From the realistic to the cartoon-like, Savdie’s painterly language fuses into a kind of biomorphic caricature through procedures that range from thin pale washes to passages of thick impasto, from expressive brushwork to smooth, machine-like areas of paint.

A frenzy of incidence, of jostling, intersecting forms, is contrasted with large blank sections of paint and beeswax that create viscous pools of colour with a skin-like surface, pitted and rippled and defined by ridges. Savdie’s palette is distinctive, dominated by hues of searing hot pink, sun yellow, lime green, red, green and deep purple. Describing their effect as both euphoric and grotesque, Savdie uses colour to seduce and repel, and directly associates them with modes of dressing up, including drag and ‘queer’ space. ‘I respond to colour, spaces of ambiguity, the uncanny’, Savdie has said. ‘I’m using language that permeates queer conversation.’

A weblog about contemporary drawing, scribbles, notes and an occasional painting or photograph. Click on images to go directly to original pictures, or on the links to learn more about the artist involved. 

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