After migrating from New York to San Francisco in the late 1960's, Eric Fischl first studied art at the California Institute for the Arts and then taught painting at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. After moving back to New York, it was not long until he had his first solo show, at the Edward Thorpe Gallery in 1979. Since then, his paintings have never wavered from their concentration on the human figure and their physical and psychological surroundings. The open-ended narratives in his paintings involve not only the people in the painting, but also the viewer and the artist himself. He said, "I paint to tell myself about myself," and when working on a painting, "you always have to include the audience... You want somebody to internalize and interpret it in terms that they understand themselves. It's about them." (Eric Fischl interview with A.M. Holmes, BOMB Magazine, Winter 1995). He as well as the viewer encounters (and in which he makes the viewer confront) situations that are otherwise taboo.
Reflection IV, (Where?), is part of a series of paintings on the theme of 'Reflection'. Fischl's engagement with the subject was extremely intimate: "I knew her in such detail I was able to paint the whole thing without losing interest in it. Each painting led me to the next... The reason I separated them and didn't insist on the entire journey was that the more she moved into the light the more projected and visual the whole thing became... so they took on a sensuous and erotic quality independent of the narrative." (Eric Fischl conversation with Robert Enright, January 2000 from Eric Fischl 1970-2000, Monacelli Press, 2002). Even though the whole series unfolds into a complete narrative, Fischl creates each canvas so it stands on its own. In the present work the light shines on a woman and a mirror as her sole companion. The audience is only allowed the view of her back, while her propped up leg hides the reflection in the mirror, teasingly leaving several unanswered questions.
The mirror is a tool for inspection as it helps to answer questions just as Fischl paints to answer questions about himself and to allow the audience to do the same. Though this painting arouses many questions, it most importantly probes the question of the body itself. Fischl states 'the body poses the biggest question for me. It's a question itself. It's all about the needs and desires and union and oneness and aloneness. It's all about the edges and boundaries of the flesh, the needs of the flesh.' (ibid, BOMB Magazine).
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