Ed Paschke shows how blurred boundaries provide a useful resource to build strong relationships from. The warmth from the faces such as ‘Hilda’ stare brazenly out at the viewer and could be attested to the close ties Paschke built with colleagues in his studio who supported his creative process. It is hard to know where the viewer ends and the subject of the painting begins in Paschke’s emotionally honest images.
This exhibition at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum shows how being an outsider to the action taking place in the frame and standing on the outside looking in, means you are not left out but are still connected to strong vibrant relationships. For example, wherever you stand the gaze of ‘Bombalia’ hits hard through a soft focus mask.
Some of the reactions to the work in the gallery are split during my visit. I watch one half of a couple ask if they can walk fast past the work whilst her partner says he would quite like to linger a while. Similar neo-expressionism gestural images hit the headlines in New York during the time Paschke made his art in Chicago and whilst this gave his work less media coverage it nurtured a bold uncompromising style.
Paschke’s high impact paintings like ‘Boxer with Masque’ show how we are defined by what surrounds us. The segments making up the composition are a superficial mask and wallpaper pattern surrounding the boxer which gives the image a surreal sense of being 3 Dimensional, a trait common to his other paintings. The layers Paschke uses in his work cleverly stand out and pop before the eyes.
The surface layer of paint, like the simple blocks of colour on top of the Mona Lisa look alike in the ‘Voulez-vous danser?’ image, gives the illusion of depth. Reality is afloat and this proves Paschke to be a master of both technique and imagination
One of the techniques Paschke was said to use was to project layers of images onto canvas and paint the overall composition in sections. This created a clever 3D illusion on a 2D. It is a subjective choice as to where reality lies in the work. It could be found in the depth of the blurred shapes on the surface or lying in the superficial figurative details of a familiar face. The mixed reactions contained in peer groups observing the same item reflects the dual nature of Paschke’s images such as ‘Accordion Shoes’ or ‘Bag Boots’.
By understanding the layers that exist in human nature and how we are all connected deep down means to enjoy Paschke’s work is to forget one person ends and another begins. This could be attributed to the enthralling excitement in the subjects’ eyes, such as ‘Wanda’ that hold the viewer fast.
The Emotional honesty of the subject in this work is transformational. Even the inanimate objects like the buckled shoes of ‘Yellow-Wave’ shape the inspiration that created them.
Paschke uses vivid colours that spike the sensation of staring into someone else’s pulsating nervous system so that you connect to the core of the subject. Thanks to this I stand connected.
Web captures of the home for Ed Paschke’s work are shown above where these images are featured. As an aside I crafted a small poem inspired by the use of colour in the paintings I enjoyed.
Cherry left no forwarding address.
She wore her colours as a temptress
like slick mojitos mixed in one go.
Her syrups dazzle
night into a frazzle.
She only got into a fix
when her fiery red tones mix.
Looking up towards the stars
through the flashing lights of a bar
the cocktail stick cuts a rhythm
and ice cubes are drawn to her harem
then just like a flamenco skirt
Cherry explodes with a spurt
into her deeply hidden dream.
Glitter pours out of the mixing machine.
A customer gets hurt.
The bar man is curt.
‘Don’t worry Cherry isn’t from this part of town –
She’s across the floor
and out the door.
The old fruit should have known
That sour drinks get thrown.
We don’t like our cocktails that shade of a ballgown’
Find more work inspired by being afloat here and
Dive into my own colourful work a fiction of the Scottish Theatre scene here