Painting something like Lolita crossed with David Lynch crossed with a crude porn site, the works of Lisa Yuskavage seem to have people divided. Her luscious images of nude women and girls have been described as both vulgar and earnest, affectionate and alienating. She has developed a unique style that blends Renaissance techniques, landscapes, still lifes, cartoon-like figures, porn and religious iconography that both delights and disturbs viewers. Yuskavage’s world is full of innocent yet flirtatious vixens parading around in their undies and getting into mischief in meadows or apartments. Her characters seem a bit narcissistic, and self loving, and in some cases maybe even self loathing. Yet they are definitely interesting and magnetic; a commentary on the complexities of the modern woman and her sexuality.
Drawing on her own childhood experiences, Yuskavage explains her encounters with, and understandings of sexiness and power:
As a little girl, in Catholic school, they were the first feminists I met. It seems counterintuitive, but these women rejected the normal system of life. The ones that taught me were quite smart. When I came to my senses, I realized it would actually be awful for me to live that particular life. I guess I liked the idea of a calling, the intensity of it. (Source)
Works from the last 25 years of Yuskavage’s career is now on show at The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Be sure to visit and make up your own mind if you love or loathe her style and content. Her solo show Lisa Yuskavage: The Brood is on display from September 12 to December 13, 2015 at David Zwirner Gallery in NYC.