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Lisa Yuskavage

Originally written in November 2011

I got to catch Lisa Yuskavage’s newest solo exhibit at theDavid Zweiner gallery on a recent trip around Chelsea with my good friend John Spinella (name drop). This is her third show at this gallery. Yuskavage comes from Pennsylvania, getting her bachelor’s degree at Tyler but her masters at Yale.

Lisa’s work involves almost exclusively various depictions of exaggerated female nudes. Her work mixes cartoonish and friendly, with vulgar and erotic. Between her choice of colors and her landscapes, the viewer gets pulled into a very mythical environment with a feeling of magic or being stuck halfway in a dream. In this particular collection of her work, I am drawn to think of Eden, a garden of sensual delights and freedom.

Then, in several of the pieces the realm is disturbed by some background figures, fully dressed and unexaggerated. This I feel, lets us really explore what Yuskavage is trying to express. From a strictly visual sense, it definitely adds some contrast to her female forms, making them even more extreme in form than they were before. In the third image, there is a man, very casually looking on, in a very invasive manner. It feels almost creepy, in that I wouldn’t want him to get any closer than he already is. The same goes for the background figures in the other pieces, I get a feeling of two very different worlds that I don’t want to meet. There are several women, fully dressed and plain looking, just overall less attractive, and I just don’t want them to spoil the Eden that the central women seem to be enjoying. Is this my view as a man? Probably. I am always curious to hear reactions to my reaction.

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