New York

Ed Paschke

Phyllis Kind Gallery

Ed Paschke is an extremely urban painter. His jazzy, electric sensibility is perfectly suited to city tempos. His hot, dayglow colors have been informed by the Strip’s competitive commercial neons. In his portraits, the sharpies, chippies and hustlers who make up the underside of the metropolitan hustle are surrounded by a psychedelic aura which suggests a space-age halo.

Paschke’s recent paintings forsake the street for the upholstered sewers of nighttown. His cacophonous colors coalesce into horizontal bands resembling the jagged tracings of an electroencephalogram. His eccentric lowlifes have been replaced by neuters recognizable more by their neckties than their physiognomy. The dramas he portrays unfold in fragments, so that an action initiated on the right side of the canvas approaches its finale on the left. The flow is not cinematic but more similar to the just-glimpsed interstices of activity revealed between the phases of a strobe.

In Violencia, the head of what may be a spectator merges with the head of a man whose hand grasps the throat of a woman. Her mouth is depicted twice: the one on the right is smiling, the other screaming. The illusionistic rendering of the characters mums the urgency of their situation so that a veneer of politesse is maintained even as the tension escalates. In Brand Ex, one man impassively (but anxiously?) watches as another raises a phosphorescent glass to his lips in three successive movements, the last of which is barely contained by the canvas. In Rio Negro, an ectoplasmic emanation slips out of the mouth a man whose extended hand is sought or clasped by three other hands; but the salutations do not appear cordial.

Paschke’s new paintings are filled with a sense of nervous dislocation. It’s not a pleasant vision, but Paschke has the intelligence to understand the kind of urban enervation which shrugs off warnings of disorder in favor of protective indifference. No longer on his city streets, Paschke has wandered into a socialized nightmare and charged it with his awareness of the homogenous nature of victim and victimizer.

Richard Flood