We are thrilled to present JUDITH BERNSTEIN, BIRTH OF THE UNIVERSE: 18 NEW PAINTINGS (2010-2013), a new and visionary body of work by New York-based artist Judith Bernstein in her third solo exhibition at The Box LA. Her provocative art embodies the psychological amalgamation of sex, violence and feminism in different orders and priorities. In this current series, fluorescent and rich oil paint exemplifies the chaos, violence and nuclear explosion that is The Big Bang. Bernstein probes the origin of space, time and infinity, using the rage of the active cunt as the primal source in the expanding universe. These paintings delve into current issues regarding relationships and gender with a literal dialogue between the active cunt and the phallus, drawing the metaphorical parallel between the expanding knowledge of both science and human relationships. Bernstein’s universe presents intricate connections between individuals, objects, galaxies and electromagnetic energy. Interactive forces are responsible for all phenomena and the powerful dynamic reflects back to human interaction.
The objects in Bernstein’s universe create an anxious and absurdist energy: Mysterious black holes, nooses that strangle, teeth that devour, the angry cunt and the flaccid phallus, cock eyes, cuntface and cockface, age of the universe and arbitrary numbers, clocks alluding to the relativity of time, crown jewels, space, time and infinity are the vocabulary. Subliminal themes of pleasure and pain, death and sex permeate this series.
Judith Bernstein is known for her dynamic imagery and expressionistic style. The horsepower of the images allow the paintings to stand alone and gives the viewer the opportunity to see the work from many perspectives and interpretations. Aside from the political, these paintings open the door to much broader meanings.
Judith Bernstein attended Yale School of Art as a graduate student in the 60s, during a time when Yale had an all-male undergraduate program. The gender inequality was extreme. This fact and many others led to her obsession with feminism and political injustices. During this time, Bernstein became fascinated with explicit bathroom drawings. She explains that graffiti is deeper than one can imagine, because when one’s releasing on the toilet, they’re also releasing from their subconscious. In her FUCK VIETNAM series (1966-68), she used raw humor and aggression to confront war with very graphic, in-your-face words and images. “No visual is as crude as war.” In 1970, Bernstein made the leap to drawing hardware screws that morphed into humongous charcoal phallic presences. They are power images that continue to characterize war and feminism. Bernstein’s art is a self-portrait of her ideas and provides a window into her subconscious. Her voice continues to scream.
Judith Bernstein’s recent shows include KEEP YOUR TIMBER LIMBER at ICA, London (2013); her solo exhibition JUDITH BERNSTEIN: HARD at New Museum, NYC (2012); SINISTER POP at The Whitney Museum, NYC (2012); GREATER NEW YORK: THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS at MoMA PS1, NYC (2010); THE HISTORICAL BOX at Hauser & Wirth, London and Zurich (2011-12). Her work has been acquired by the permanent collections of MoMA, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Jewish Museum, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Kronhausen Collection Sweden; Neuberger Museum NY and The Brooklyn Museum, NY.