7 May to 27 June 2015
On 7 May 2015, Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Fifth Avenue location Voyeur, an exhibition curated by Piper Marshall of recent paintings and drawings by JUDITH BERNSTEIN.
Judith Bernstein is a painter whose direct, expressionistic work has for fifty years confronted conservative gender politics with sexual aggression. She was a founding member of A.I.R. Gallery (the first gallery devoted to showing female artists) and an early member of Guerrilla Girls, Art Workers’ Coalition, and Fight Censorship.
Spontaneous descriptions of Judith Bernstein’s paintings begin with the statement that she politicizes female and male aggression and eroticism. Since 1964, there has been a rich flow of ferocious, disturbing portrayals. Bernstein has regularly painted the war-time phallus alone and in pairs.
In this exhibition, however, female genitalia fill the large-scale canvases, Bernstein employs a direct and in-your-face approach to painting that combines a “figure” (the “cunt”) as scaffolding based on sweeping, elaborated, abstract strokes. The associative possibilities of the cunt are unmatched by almost any other figure. Starting with graffitilike depictions, the cosmic and fecund content of the imagery continues throughout the six paintings on view in this exhibition. In CRYING CUNTFACE, the genital is a head with horn-like cock eyes. QUATTRO CUNT is a grid of four open faces shooting phallic-eyed glares at one another. These works maintain a demeanor of abandon, a quality unique to the property of psycho-sexual politics in their most chaotic, unrestrained, and zany states. These attributes drive the use of the cunt as an unrepressed symbol of sexuality and power; they are watching you.
Bernstein’s paintings satirize the expression of male ego, specifically Pollock-like painters who execute ritual to bring the body back into the image. The punch line is that Bernstein gives it better, harder, faster, longer.
Bernstein’s recent exhibitions include Judith Bernstein: Hard at the New Museum in New York and Judith Bernstein: Rising at Studio Voltaire London. Her work is in many collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Jewish Museum, New York.
The current exhibition, at 745 Fifth Avenue, will be on view through 27 June 2015. For further information, please contact Ron Warren at the Gallery, or visit our website www.maryboonegallery.com.