Saturday, January 9, 2016

"Something deeper that we may all recognize"

Painter, sculptor, and printmaker Eric Fischl recently sat down with the editors of Out Of Sync, an online interview series, to discuss his career and work. Fischl speaks casually and openly, and the brief window into his life, aesthetic, and motivations is very interesting.

On his early art schooling:
I found as I started to take these art classes, that two things happened that had never happened to me before. One was that I could be alone. And the other was that I could concentrate.... I felt so integrated when I made art, so connected to my self, my essential self, that I thought that, even if I was not a good or successful artist, that I would keep doing that for the rest of my life.
On the effect of his mother's alcoholism and her effort to hide it from the public:
I became acutely aware of the difference between inside and outside, between experienced and speakable, and in my work, once I began to mature as an artist, that became part of the impetus and the themes in the work, to expose that which cannot be spoken.
On being a self-taught representational painter:
I was making this transition from abstract painting, which is what I was taught in school, to figuration, which I was impelled to make but actually didn't know how to. I wasn't trained as a drawer or a renderer or something like so I had to kind of make the whole thing up as I went along.
On the family as subject:
I chose a structure that I thought would give me a lot of things to work on, so the structure was a family matrix....[wherein] you could explore the relationship between the mother, the father, between the sister, the brother, the husband, the wife, the father, the daughter, etc.. You'd go through all of these variations and you could find some deep, emotional, psychological content within those. So I began to play around, moving these characters in and out. I was looking for something that was more universal than just my personal experience, going for something deeper that we may all recognize, empathize with, or share experientially.

Particularly interesting are Fischl's comments on two of his more notable, and infamous, paintings, Sleepwalker and Bad Boy, as he considers the differences between the taboo of pornography on the one hand, and complex human experience sexual experiences on the other. I've been a big fan of Fischl's for years, and it's great to see him discuss his work, however briefly, in a relaxed environment. Good stuff.
Sleepwalker (1979)

Bad Boy (1981)

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