March 2, 2009

Charlie Finch on Yusavage and Rothenberg: The not-so-innocent girl child vs. the older woman who has actually lived

At artnet Charlie Finch compares new work by Lisa Yuskavage and Susan Rothenberg. "Echoing Inka Essenhigh's controversial use of unicorns and other fantasias in her recent work, Yuskavage has sunk her erotic smurfs into a lime green never-never land that veers a little too close to the juvenile tastes of Michael Jackson's Ranch Art collection, about to go up for auction. Little people journey into the forest past giant Cabbage Patch dolls with pulsating clits. Some of them have come on their faces , or perhaps it's whipped cream. The color coordination is dismally nauseating, but the undeniable sexual thrills which Yuskavage summons forth are undiminished, if more pedophiliac than ever. Leaving the show, I required not only a brisk wind, but a more mature painterly vision, and I found it in the new Rothenbergs, which examine a very different vision of childhood, the one which molders in the attic.

"Alarmingly, Susan has channeled her husband Bruce Nauman's broken limbs as her subject. They are those of a marionette, a defenestrated Pinocchio stripped of the formerly human. They are very much not alive, but through Rothenberg's superb impasto paint handling, they remain animated. The two mournful head paintings, a kind of serious response to Baselitz, are especially moving in their dangling mortality. Other limbs, orange or fleshy or cerulean blue, dangle from hooks and ladders, as if a child God had thrown his creations repeatedly down the stairs.

"These two shows demonstrate two kinds of courage from their mature creators: the not-so-innocent experimenting of the girl child and the fearless recognition of the older woman who has actually lived. Speaking for myself, I prefer the latter" Read more.

"Lisa Yuskavage," David Zwirner, New York, NY. Through March 28.

"Susan Rothenberg," Sperone Westwater, New York, NY. Through April 11.

Related posts:
Another Yuskavage show in NYC


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