Critics’ Picks

Erica Eyres, Helga, 2022, oil on linen

Erica Eyres, Helga, 2022, oil on linen


Erica Eyres

493 Victoria Road 3/2
March 12–April 30, 2022

The women posing in the paintings in Erica Eyres’s exhibition “Another Dirty Room” meet my gaze with a glazed look of their own. Most appear in some stage of undress in a domestic setting, lying provocatively on a velvet sofa or sprawled across a bed. The images, gleaned from 1980s-era pornography, are deftly rendered in oils. Three intimately cropped smaller works have the feel of an amateur peep show, while the larger pieces exude a more glamorous, airbrushed appeal. The models all share certain generic features––white skin, red lipstick, painted nails, fake tits––but the title of each work is a woman’s first name. This mimics a format common to British tabloids’ now-defunct “Page 3,” on which nude shots were accompanied by a few lines of mundane information about the model, both to individuate them and to make them accessible to the “readership.”

The male fantasy of these pinuplike paintings is undercut by Dirty Dishes with Deflated Woman, 2022, a darkly humorous set of stoneware and resin pieces that depicts, with disarming realism, a scene of comically bleak desperation: open tins of food (the bachelor’s diet of baked beans, spaghetti hoops, and peas), stained mugs, and full ashtrays, all arranged around the ceramic effigy of a collapsed sex doll, which shares the synthetic attributes and glassy stare of the models in the paintings. The installation encourages a kind of public voyeurism in a way akin to that of Duchamp’s unsettling diorama Étant Donnés, 1968. And while the tableau may border on slapstick, the viewing experience remains faintly embarrassing, tinged as it is with the unshakable fear of being seen looking too hard or for too long.