David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Lisa Yuskavage. On view at 24 Grafton Street in London, this is the artist's first exhibition since the major survey of her work at The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts in 2015, which traveled to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
Widely associated with a re-emergence of the figurative in contemporary painting, Yuskavage has developed her own genre of portraiture in which lavish, erotic, angelic and at times grotesque characters are cast within fantastical landscapes or domestic spaces. Seamlessly blending contemporary cultural imagery and classical pictorial language, Yuskavage marshals color as a conduit for complex psychological constructs.
The exhibition includes several works that continue Yuskavage's exploration of the dynamics of intertwined couples, while also furthering her interest in using color as a vehicle for ideational content. Begun in the 2000s with dual portraits of female figures, she has in recent years created a series of symbiotic depictions of a female and male couple. Their relationship appears determined by carefully selected color harmonies or contrasts—in some cases, one figure is cast in vibrant hues, while the other is in neutral tones. In works such as Ludlow Street (2017), the figures are connected to one another through pose, color, and light, and contrast with their stark and colorless environment.
Other paintings in the exhibition depict single women or groups, with psychological narratives of tenderness and tension likewise described by formal elements within the compositions. The large-scale Déjà Vu (2017) presents a luminous female character in the center of a small crowd of male figures rendered in shades of grays and blacks, who ultimately emerge as ethereal manifestations. Keenly interested in the variety of ways the nude has been depicted across art history and within popular media, Yuskavage frequently lets her male and female characters assume roles traditionally expected of the other. For the artist, the meaning of a work is to be found equally in the representation of characters as in the "emotional formalism" that gives the subjects expression through coloration and other pictorial inventions.
Above: Déjà Vu, 2017. Oil on linen, 80 x 80 inches (203.2 x 203.2 cm)