If her voluptuous women with their cartoon eyes weren’t enough, Lisa Yushavage captured my soul by saying:
“As an artist you’re supposed to spend your life doing something that’d be an utter waste of time for anyone else. And even so, there’s no proof you’re not wasting your life making some total crap.” (Source)
Using her exceptional skill in oil paints to create hyper-hued landscapes with ripe, almost blowsy, nudes is clearly not making crap. With a career that started in the mid 1990s, her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions, including the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Royal Academy of Arts, London; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.
“I don’t want my pictures to be up to any good. I like the idea that they’re troublemakers. So if I’m told they’re bad for the world, it pleases me. I don’t want to make something that’s an antidote. I want to pose questions. That’s what I do. I suppose I strive to bother people and be loved for it. That’s the dream.” (Source)
These are erotic pictures of women, painted by a woman. Rather than the patriarchal view of sexual woman as object, these women are sexual for themselves. Sometimes kinky, often controversial, these paintings have been compared to soft-core porn. It’s intended as an insult, but it’s actually a reclaiming of power and the ability to depict women in all their forms. “It’s not about being well behaved,” Yaskavage says. “It’s not about behaving for others.”
The essence of female power is not that women must be desexed, it’s that women can decide how they want to be seen—sexy, silly, powerful, maternal, erotic, masculine, intelligent, profound—any combination of these, and much more. Yaskavage’s women are the creatures of her mind, brought to life through her skill with a paintbrush, and behaving in exactly the way they’re meant to in the worlds she’s created.