When Lisa Yuskavage has something new to say, heads snap to attention. Her fantastical studies of intimate moments explore stylized bodies in lush landscapes that have captivated her audience to the point that we’re on the edge of our seats, anticipating what she’ll do next. The balance of oppositions is plentiful in her paintings as she renders images that feel both gorgeous and grotesque, dark and light, brooding and confident. Yuskavage is among the female painters credited with bringing figurative work back into the contemporary art game after a lengthy affair with abstraction, but her take is unparalleled, taking representation to another level. Subtly referencing historical painting, she straddles the line between academic and lowbrow with her provocative characters. Describing the act of painting as “loading the gun,” she encourages her audience to pull the trigger of interpretation. Like all the best art, Yuskavage’s surreal paintings ask questions, they don’t presume to offer answers. —Kristin Farr

Her new works are on display at David Zwirner, London, through July 28th.