Judith Bernstein’s Birth of the Universe is a new and visionary body of work by this New York– based artist. 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 was The Big Bang. She 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 issues regarding relationships and gender with a literal dialogue between the active cunt and the phallus. 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.
Bernstein attended the 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 graphic, in-your-face words and imagery. “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 the Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2013); her solo exhibition Judith Bernstein: Hard at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2012); Sinister Pop at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012); Greater New York: The Comfort of Strangers at MoMA PS1, New York (2010); The Historical Box at Hauser & Wirth, London and Zurich (2011-12). Her work has been acquired by the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Jewish Museum, New York; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Kronhausen Collection, Sweden; Neuberger Museum, New York; and the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
All images: Judith Bernstein, installation views