There is great range in Eric Fischl's "Cast & Drawn" show at McClain Gallery in both subject matter and material. All figurative works, they convey bodies that are muscular, fat, ordinary, and sensual done in bronze, glass, watercolor and pigment inks cast in resin.
The impressive skill on display almost comes as no surprise, given that the art icon is famous for his seductive portrayals of the human body. But the 18 pieces in the show also present a rare opportunity to experience both Fischl's 2-D and 3-D figurative work and witness how he creates elegant, active forms across multiple mediums.
The sculptures are particularly elegant, portraying athletes and bodies in motion. The Dancer looks ready to pounce, all tense concentration on her tippy toes, while Swimmer At Rest looks as pensive as a Rodin. Tumbling Woman, Fischl's somewhat controversial homage to 9/11 victims, is referenced in several sculptures, including a piece in glass and another in bronze. The awkward, unnatural pose -- the woman is on her back, her legs lifted and held together to her left side -- is meant to evoke the bodies that leapt from the World Trade Center towers. It's a powerful, striking, vulnerable visual, particularly in bronze, even without knowing the reference.
Fischl's colorful resin paintings are a clear departure -- if you didn't know any better, you'd think this was a group show. The beach bods depicted are a burnt orange tan, their posture relaxed as they strut around half-clothed or naked. They are completely unselfconscious. His watercolors are more sensual and evocative. Set against a white or splotched background, they are looser, freer depictions of the body and its contours, the subjects stretched out into impossible poses or joined together, indistinguishable from one to the next. A yellowish orange painting of a woman bent over backwards, her arm stretched out in line with her body and her hair flowing beneath her, is particularly breathtaking.
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"Eric Fischl: Cast & Drawn" runs at McClain Gallery, 2242 Richmond Avenue, now through May 11. For more information, call 713-520-9988 or visit www.mcclaingallery.com.