Last week I had the privilege of going to the opening of Eric Fischl’s new show “Rift Raft” at the Skarstedt Gallery on 79th and Madison. I’ve been making it a point lately to try and attend events for my sister arts, and I was introduced to Fischl during the intermission of Jules Feiffer’s new play “The Man In The Ceiling” at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor the week before. Eric told me about the show at the Skarstedt and I gave my word I’d be there.
It was stunning. Fischl’s work is brilliant but approachable. I’ve often hesitated to speak with any degree of authority on visual art, because I feared running the risk of sounding like a dolt. I still run that risk, but I feel emboldened by this New York Times review of the show, because it echoed some of what I was thinking as I moved through the gallery spaces.
“Fischl’s paintings portray a fantastical world populated by disenchanted figures,” the article states. “Staring into the voids of their cellphone screens, Fischl’s well-heeled characters remain unfazed by the onslaught of look-at-me colors and purposefully provocative images.”
My favorite painting: False Gods, emblazoned on the wall at a gallery, where a young boy in the foreground has his hands down his pants while staring at an old man fast asleep in his chair. His mother (naturally) is too busy leafing through the gallery map to notice her kid’s diddling his privates in public, haha. In the background a gentleman is yapping away on his cellphone, while another man is on his laptop.
Many of Fischl’s paintings in this show depict this idea of raw, primitive sexuality going neglected because of our obsession with making connections to those not in the room. In the upstairs gallery, a massive double-canvas painting depicts an orgy taking place, while others are ignoring it, opting to text instead.
Jules was on hand at the show, along with the fiction writer JZ Holden. Actor Ron Rifkin was also at the reception. Small-world moment of the night: bumping into a former boss of mine at Haymarket Media after leaving the company almost 10 years ago.