Notes on Visiting Eric Fischl’s Studio

31 Jul

Last week, the New Paradise Laboratories ensemble had the pleasure of touring Eric Fischl’s painting and sculpture studio, where he is working on a new series of canvasses to exhibit later this year.

Eric Fischl’s body of work has provided influential source material for NPL over the years; most recently a primary source of inspiration for The Adults.

We spoke at length about creative process, the importance of context and interpretability, and how we negotiate shifts in perspective within our work. Below, a few NPL company members reflect on the experience.

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Sam Tower:

“Quoting his wife April, Fischl suggested that he believes ‘Great art is vulnerable enough to leave itself open to interpretation.’ At New Paradise, we are always contemplating how to provide an audience with enough footholds into the world of the piece while allowing space for generous interpretation of the abstract.

We are constantly recalibrating how much is enough – how many of our cards to show and when.

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While regarding Fischl’s newest work, we spoke at length about the manipulation of time and space within our artistic mediums. He constructs a sense of surreal relativity in his work within very literal, figurative environments.

In our work for the stage, we manipulate perception in a similar way, by delivering a series of hyper-extended moments that reveal things, sometimes sociological, sometimes psychological, sometimes metaphysical. Through carefully constructed rhythms, we create an unpredictable environment, a world in which anything might happen.”

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Kate Czajkowski:

“Fischl spoke with us about problems with painting as his career advances and his work evolves. There are tools he has used in the past to ‘finish’ a pieceflesh it out—a hanging balloon or the presence of a TV might serve to complete a visual moment. But at a certain point, the TV and the balloon don’t work anymore because they have been done—they become mere devices. This is a struggle I can relate to as a performer; the need to shed old standards and lean into unknown territory—making choices that are in concert with this moment rather than superimposed from the past.”

Kevin Meehan:

“What stuck with me from Fischl’s studio was the size of the pieces he was creating. They’re huge canvasses! Having seen his paintings only in art books my concept of their scale wasn’t clear. With Eric’s previous work, there is a voyeuristic experience with the content he explores – you peer in unacknowledged. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s exploring something different now, but being in the same room with these new paintings, I get the sense they’re watching me as well. They stare back.

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I think that feeling resonates in my work with NPL because there is this odd event that often happens between characters – this thing where you’re knowingly observing someone as they consciously experience your watchful, indulgent eye. It makes for interestingly complex relationships.”

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The Adults will be presented in 2014 Fringe Festival, September 3-14. Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia. Tickets on sale here.

The Adults has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, National Endowment for the Arts, Independence Foundation New Theatre Works Initiative, and the Wyncote Foundation. The Adults was developed, in part, with the support of The Orchard Project, a program of The Exchange (2013) and the White Pines Resident Ensemble Program (2013).

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