faces to watch in the art world 9. Nicola Tyson

Her paintings are disquieting, trangressive, repulsive and funny. And now she has her first solo show in Britain

She wears a man's sober suit. Her face is visible only as a crescent moon of pancake-white beneath her short red hair. Her old school tie hangs from her neck, and between the hem of her starched shirt and her waistband, her naked torso and breasts are revealed - putty-coloured, weird, elongated into a painfully cartoonish distortion. This is a self-portrait of the artist as a young woman as she remembers herself in the late 1970s. In a second self-portrait she displays her vagina and buttocks, twisted around and bunched into a raw, fleshy form, poking out through the open fly of her gentleman's attire.

Nicola Tyson's vicious, psycho-sexual self-portraits are included in her first solo British show, currently at Anthony d'Offay's. Other works include an upside-down femme fatale in a slinky black dress (part shark, she says, part torpedo), and Virgin - an odd amalgam of ballet dancer, principal boy and bunny girl in boxing gloves. This exhibition is to be followed by a show of her drawings at the new Entwistle Gallery in Cork Street. Tatler is running a feature on her in December and she's doing some "Artist's Pages" for Dazed and Confused, before returning to America.

One of a particularly vital generation of students to leave St Martin's School of Art in the late 1980s, Tyson moved to New York, where she opened Trial Balloon. It only ever showed women artists - British chums who drifted to the US, young artists at the start of their careers and, most significantly, other lesbian artists. For a couple of years the gallery was her work, but it gave her a context, and the encouragement to return to painting after a period when her faith deserted her. And artists whose treatment of women had once been anathema to her - notably Bacon and Hans Bellmer - became her antagonistic influences.

But Tyson's paintings are all her own - disquieting, transgressive, repulsive and funny. Tyson isn't just painting for dykes, she says, nor should we read her work merely as part of a fashionable, New York lesbian-chic wave. She's on her own wave, and says she feels very British, and that her work is uncomfortably personal. "I've got a big inner life," she jokes.

n At Anthony d'Offay, London W1 to 17 Nov (0171-499 4100); Entwistle Gallery, London W1 (0171-409 3484) from 17 Nov to 6 Jan

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