David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Lisa Yuskavage. On view at 533 West 19th Street in New York, this will be the artist’s seventh solo show with the gallery.
In this exhibition, Lisa Yuskavage continues her long-standing exploration of what constitutes a model, exceptionally summoning the history of her own work as part of that process. Its two rooms are defined by contrasting moods that the artist has often intertwined within individual paintings, and which both engage with aspects of art making. The first includes a group of works that confront the viewer on varied levels, recalling the tension between seer and seen. Addressing issues of vulnerability, power, and rage, they reference an art-historical sub-tradition “in which rudeness fortifies erudition and corrosive humor strips humanism of all sentimentality,” exemplified by artists such as Francisco Goya and Philip Guston.1
The exhibition proceeds to four large-scale color-field compositions saturated in jewel-like pigments of red, green, yellow, and pink; they each depict a studio or art-school classroom with canvases and other traditional and nontraditional still-life objects scattered throughout. Taking their point of departure in Henri Matisse’s The Red Studio (1911) and The Pink Studio (1911), they convey a strong sense of the interiority of art making, yet Yuskavage’s theatrical lighting adds a sense of drama, whereby the subjects appear summoned from color and the settings emerge like prosceniums or shallow stages. While her methodical investigation of her medium has predominantly taken place within distinct series, these works layer a variety of processes, techniques, characters, and references, formal as well as personal. They also revisit specific paintings from the past three decades, notably from the singularly colored Bad Baby series of models in explicit poses from the early 1990s, seamlessly integrating these as works in progress within the new narratives. Epitomizing painting’s inherent ability to compress time, real and imaginary references come together as per an inspirational poem by Wallace Stevens, highlighted by the artist for this show: “The world imagined is the ultimate good. / This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.”2
1 Quote provided by Yuskavage from Robert Storr, Guston (New York: Abbeville Press, 1983), p. 54.
2 Wallace Stevens, “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour” (1951), in The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (New York: Vintage Books, 2015), p. 555.
Image: Lisa Yuskavage, Night Classes at the Department of Painting Drawing and Sculpture, 2018–2020 (detail)