Lisa Yuskavage: Interview

Lisa Yuskavage, Night, 1999-2000, oil on linen, 77 x 62 inches (courtesy of the
Lisa Yuskavage, Night, 1999-2000, oil on linen, 77 x 62 inches (courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London)

Robert Moeller interviews painter Lisa Yuskavage on the occasion of her exhibition The Brood, recently on view at the Rose Museum at Brandeis University. The show will be on view at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis from January 15 - April 3, 2016.

Yuskavage comments: "There are entrenched prejudices against all things female, and those expressions can come not just from men but also other women, even in the name of feminism. That qualifies as misogyny. But there are many excellent woman artists working today who are embraced warmly and so I don’t see this is a global issue. At this point, I am willing to say that I think the controversy is actually more specific to me, and my energy, and I believe it comes from a number of elements in the work. First issue is the potency and specifically female potency that I seem to both personally represent and also inject into my paintings. I do not create work from a warm and fuzzy place. I am representing something vulgar, harsh and sinister (at times) and these are not on the list of things we allow women to say or to be. That is certainly a gendered prejudice. Men suffer under no such prohibitions. The paternalistic, didactic and prescriptive seems to come into play because I do not paint in a manner grounded in expressionism. This mode of representation would make the work a safer repository of emotion. I chose a manner of constructing a painting that allows for the huge carnival of emotions that I seek to represent, anger being only one of them, but also love and tenderness and humor, loneliness, self-deprecation, internalized misogyny, grief and joy... the whole banquet table. The manner in which I paint allows for this range. I have given it a lot of thought over the years, and if I did paint in an expressionist manner it would dilute the potency."