LondonEric Fischl: Figures
Skarstedt presents an exhibition of new works on paper by Eric Fischl, on view at the London gallery.
In Figures, Fischl stages human interactions against an expanse of the horizon line at the seaside. A pivotal theme in his acclaimed figurative works, the beach here provides a setting for inadvertent proximity, unfulfilled desires, and fleeting intentions. As Fischl explains, “The beach is a boundary, a border. It is, metaphorically, the edge of where we came from and cannot return. What better place to set dramas that deal with the disappointment of pleasure, the impossibility of sustained union, the public display of the sensual body?”
In this new series of drawings, a practice which Fischl describes as being both for exploration as well as for pleasure, the artist presents compositions which embody movement but suggest an uncertainty of its ultimate course. Executed on glossy photographic paper, which enables an ease and glide of the brush, these works possess a sensual fluidity. Within the single figure watercolours, the artist controls the edges of the figure whilst allowing the paint to flow, puddle, and blend inside those edges, suggesting but without defining the flesh, muscle and bone.
Traversing the space in animated postures, the visibly cut-out figures enveloped in a contour of white space remain decidedly separated from the space they occupy. Here, Fischl deliberately shows his working methods evoking the early series of ‘Glassines’ (1977-82) – collaged drawings on film-like paper which heralded his trademark technique. Fischl’s process, in fact, has always been rooted in collage, he takes figures whose body language speaks to him in ways that naturally generate narrative associations, and says “collage is the way that I build a meaningful moment.” Situating his ready-made protagonists in the pictorial space, Fischl points at the fragility of visual narratives and meditates on the degree of contingency in an apparently close encounter.
“These new works are exploring small moments; moments of proximity and exchange between two or more people. I am measuring the space between the characters to find the point where failure to connect becomes part of the equation. Is there a pulling away or a holding onto? Is there a sharing of the moment of play, pleasure, joy or does it only appear to be shared? These are the kinds of questions I continually ask of myself as I watch the characters I’ve created.”
Figures will be followed by a solo exhibition of Eric Fischl’s work at Hastings Contemporary, Sussex, UK in June 2020.
N.B. All quotations are taken from the artist’s own statements in conversation with the gallery.
About Eric Fischl
Eric Fischl was born in New York in 1948. He graduated from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia in 1972 and was a teacher between 1974 and 1978 at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Fischl had his first solo show, curated by Bruce W. Ferguson, at Dalhousie Art Gallery in Nova Scotia in 1975 before relocating to New York City in 1978.
Fischl has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been held in international institutions including the Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, Texas in 2018; Albertina, Vienna in 2014; the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Malaga in 2010; the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover in 2007-2008; the Stadtkirche Darmstadt in 2006 and the Delaware Center of Contemporary Art in 2006. His work has also been included in exhibitions in major institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée Beaubourg, Paris; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Eric Fischl is a Fellow at both the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as the American Academy of Arts and Science. He lives and works in Sag Harbor, NY with his wife, the painter April Gornik.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)