Your Gallery: Critics' Choice By Steve Pulimood


The heydays of figuration are back. Ever since the silk brocades of the academy faded a century ago, the body has been trumped in favour of Mother Abstraction and her bastard children, Pop, Minimal and Conceptual. Figuration never really left the building. It was simply holding its ground at stage left. From Picasso to Freud, painting the human form remains entrenched in the history of art making. Every foundation art education requires time with a model, and even self-trained artists of masterful figuration including Francis Bacon, no matter how fervently they denied the fact, took pencil to paper and improved with age. Giacometti, arguably the twentieth-century’s most important sculptor of the human body, understood that timelessness could be represented in its gaunt essential form.

Jamie Salmon works in a long tradition that extends from Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783) to Ron Mueck (1958- ). Messerschmitt was born in the age of enlightenment where the physiognomy of the face, and its extreme expressions were a science. Salmon’s bronze offers to the viewer a fragmented stoicism, a portrait bust of statuesque vulnerability. In Mueck, Salmon has a peer in modern medium and intent. Salmon has replicated the visage of the imitable filmmaker David Lynch, earmarking a mascot for the strange, disturbing, and quietly uncanny. To find out more about Jamie Salmon and his work on Your gallery click here.


Steve Pulimood, an intellectual historian based at Oxford, is currently writing a book on Leonardo da Vinci and the history of anatomy.

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