Presence of an Absence follows Eric Fischl’s acclaimed series “Late America” of 2017 presenting a new body of work, set in domestic interiors and exteriors. There is a palpable sense of disconnect between an outward appearance of wealth and security and an inner sense of fear and longing for which there is no apparent cause.

Following on from the exploration in Late America, at a time of political turmoil, of a society whose misplaced values gives rise to a lack of fulfilment, the paintings in Presence of an Absence continue to engage with this sense of detachment and with universal existential questions.

In some of the works, the figures are dressed in sombre clothing, perhaps coming or going to a funeral. In others, we witness scenes of intimacy that lack desire. Since the 1970s Fischl has been painting scenes of suburban life, conveying through paint what we fail to say in words. A collapse of communication is prevalent throughout his work and here we see him again ask a series of questions such as “who are these people?” and “how are they connected?”. The lack of obvious answers is typical of his narrative style.

‘There are two kinds of painter, if you like…One is somebody like [Edward] Hopper who creates an image that burns on your retina and you never forget it. You can see it, walk away and still see it. [With] the other kind you are caught up in the authenticity of the energy. The believable moment. Jackson Pollock, you are right there with him. I am essentially the Hopper artist trying to create a frozen moment. The truth about how it actually was.’ (Eric Fischl, The Guardian, 2014)

Returning to the private moments and intimate themes that established his name in the 1980s, which he presents without judgement, we are left to draw our own conclusions from the scenes depicted. As ever, this body of work attests to the artist’s unique ability to capture the universal condition of our lives.

The exhibition at Skarstedt Gallery coincides with with Running Wild at The Arts Club from 27 February-19 May 2018, which features seminal early paintings by Eric Fischl alongside leading American painters David Salle, James Rosenquist and Peter Cain.

Presence of an Absence
Eric Fischl
Skarstedt Gallery
01 March through 26 May