Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eric Fischl, "A Visit To/ A Visit From/ The Island"

Eric Fischl, "A Visit To/ A Visit From/ The Island," 1983, Oil on Canvas

Fischl exploded on the artistic scene with his 1979 portrait "Sleepwalker," narrating a young boy masturbating in a backyard wading pool. As his career progress, Fischl became known for his bawdy and overtly sexual images that all maintain the underlying question, "What's wrong with this picture?" Many critics have evaluated Fischl's work to be an exploitation of middle class America with "Sleepwalker" representing the failed American dream.

His portrait "A Visit To/ A Visit From/ The Island" seems to expose Western colonization, or at least the repercussion of such a subject as many islands used for vacations spots were once inhabited and reconfigured by England and America. "A Visit To" reflects the image on the left side of the portrait. The white individuals appear ingloriously vacationing on an island, presumably one in Central America. The nudity is almost sexualized, gravitating toward an overtly euphoric atmosphere. The colors are bright and highlight the joy mainting this Western perspective of the island—one of thrill and relaxation.

The image on the right, however, captures a much darker vision of the islands. Juxtaposing the image on the left, the image appears bleaker. The hues sink in an overwhelmingly solemn grey. The black folk leaving the island shout in disbelief as their seemingly dead brothers and sister lay on the beach with tempestuous waves engulfing them. For the islanders themselves, the land is not of wonderment and joy, but of fear and anguish. The title "The Island" denotes this land as any island, concluding that Westerns have exploited these once beautiful lands for their perverse pleasure.

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