Red Ava (1997)
Oil on Canvas
44.75 x 30.75 x 0.0
University Club of Chicago
Ed Paschke was born in 1939 in Chicago. His childhood interest in animation and cartoons led him toward a career in art. As a student at the School of the Art Institute he was influenced by many artists featured in the Museum's special exhibitions, in particular the work of Gauguin, Picasso and Seurat.
Although Paschke was inclined toward representational imagery, he learned to paint based on the principles of abstraction and expressionism. Paschke received his bachelor of fine arts degree in 1961, and later his master of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute in 1970. Between his graduate and undergraduate work Paschke traveled and worked a variety of jobs amassing the experiences that would shape his artistic style.
During a brief period in New York, he was exposed to Pop Art philosophy and began to incorporate elements of this style borrowing images directly from the print media and other elements of popular culture. The founder of a group of late 1960s Chicago artists known as the plussed Some, Ed Paschke became one of the most renowned painters in the city.
Red Ava (1997) is an oil on canvas portrait painted during the later period of Paschke’s career.
The single figure is cropped so that only the figure’s eyes and nose are visible, and aside from the title suggesting that this figure is “Ava,” and female, the figure does not signify a specific gender.
The figure is highly patterned and detailed, with bands and stripes of rays across its face, but offers little information regarding a sense of “identity,” gender, or narrative. The entire composition is painted in richly concentrated colors of red and orange and displays a range of hues from hot, electric orange on the ball of the figure’s nose to deeply saturated black-red under the vacant eyes.
The figure gazes slightly upward, which orients the viewer to look slightly downward at the figure. Sunglasses darken its heavy, almost sleepy eyes. Skin, eyebrows, cheeks, and forehead are replaced by linear rays of lines and patterns that emanate from the top and bottom rim of the sunglasses.
Beginning at the middle of the figure’s nose, striped rays of alternating hues converge at the bridge of the sunglasses and fan upwards off the edge of the canvas. The central rays are flanked on the left and right sides of the upper canvas by two darker rays filled with chevron shapes of alternating hues.
Below the eyes, similar rays emanate from the lower edge of the sunglasses and are depicted with wavy and irregular lines. The figure nearly fills the entire canvas, with just a small non-descript background evident on the left and right sides of its face.
The eyes are the most telling feature, and their disinterested, dull expression contrasts the vibrant hot color of the painting.
In this, Red Ava demonstrates Paschke’s mastery of adornment, color, and mediating the human figure into a highly stylized subject.