Four Stages: An exhibition of four large-scale works from 1991
April 19-May 19
Franklin Parrasch Gallery
20 W. 57th St. 7th Fl
New York, NY 10019
The Edward Paschke exhibition is initially simple. Four oil faces hang nonchalantly on the wall of the Franklin Parrasch Gallery on West 57th Street. It requires viewers to linger beyond first impressions and exercise careful inspection. The entire show of late Chicago artist Paschke, titled Four Stages: An exhibition of four large scale works from 1991, is something of a spiritual experimentation.
Four images of the same male face in tonal Technicolor variations; cerulean blue, electric green, muddy mustard, and a golden orange. The descent is eastern or pacific, the expression tranquil or remote, the significance bewildering or quietly meaningful. This exhibition begs the viewer to put their observational ability to good use. What are the differences, if any, on the four canvases? And a closer look reveals there are a load of variations in the content. Pointillism creates an illusory smoothness out of large pixels. Shapes layered on top of the facial features affect the visual flow, symbols of religion and spirituality adorn the cheekbones and forehead. Some I recognize, like Judaism's Star of David and the Buddhist ohm… but many are foreign to me.
I can speculate that Paschke chose this array of symbols to provoke thought and spark the mental tendency to identify patterns. If the artist had a reason for putting certain symbols together, I cannot reveal it. I can only say that the faces took on more significance the longer I observed them. The canvases each possessed a different sensibility; the blue was a soothing river-like tranquility, the orange-yellow a looming and potent figure. I left the oddly shaped gallery and stepped onto the streets, quizzical yet easy, the faces faint traces on passersby. This poignant tribute to a career of a vibrant and colorful artist is successful in continuing his strange and spiritual message.
Jemma Jorel is a writer/artist/philosopher currently residing in the Hudson Valley. When she's not thinking or writing about important things, she's probably creating some new dance moves or exploring new territories. She also escapes cold weather whenever possible. email@example.com
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