Critics’ Picks

View of Eliza Douglas, 2020, Air de Paris, Paris. Both Untitled, 2020.

View of Eliza Douglas, 2020, Air de Paris, Paris. Both Untitled, 2020.


Eliza Douglas

Air de Paris
43 rue de la Commune de Paris
June 20–July 30, 2020

Eliza Douglas’s twelve stretched canvases—all Untitled, 2020, and about eighty-three by sixty-three inches, an echo of the traditional photographic 4:3 ratio—hang from the gallery’s ceiling on thick steel chains. Working from pictures she captures with an iPhone of rumpled graphic T-shirts in her wardrobe, Douglas creates hyperrealistic images in oil on canvas. The printed textiles she appropriates bear illustrations of NASCAR drivers, zombies, Sailor Moon, and other pop-cultural references. In one work, a tiny two-holed button, striking in its simplicity, slips from round plastic object to printed graphic, arriving at the smooth painted surface with the ease of a light blouse unbuttoning.  

Stretched on aluminum chassis, these paintings proceed logically from Pile, 2019, the installation Douglas exhibited at Tate Modern last year. Channeling Christian Boltanski, she assembled a mountain of cotton tees printed for rock concerts, American political campaigns, and animal lovers. T-shirts, worn on the body, soaked with sweat, become marked like a loose canvas. Pulled taut on a frame, as if starch-ironed with a flat, perfecting application of paint, Douglas’s works only gesture at the human form, yet visitors experience her paintings in the round, like statuary, suspended far from the gallery’s concrete walls. On the back of each canvas, in looping black Sharpie, Douglas claims them as her own. If these pieces are kinds of portraits, as curator Vincent Pécoil suggests, they should be likened to Yves Klein’s body prints. This time, however, it is the artist who symbolically bears her own flesh, and the female body that is no longer seen but seer.