The Parrish Art Museum’s exhibition “Unfinished Business” offers a heated conversation among three esteemed local talents.
A Visit To/A Visit From, Eric Fischl, 1983.
Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle were all students at the California Institute of the Arts at the same time, and each lives and works on the East End—in Springs, Sag Harbor, and East Hampton, respectively—but their connections go far deeper, and that’s the focus of a new exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum.
“It’s complexity and physicality,” says curator David Pagel, describing the ties that bind the artists. “These are big, bold, dramatic, and powerful paintings. They grab your eyes in a nanosecond and then hold your attention. The longer you look, the more mystery you see.”
Whether tending toward realism (Fischl), abstraction (Bleckner), or a postmodern synthesis of the two (Salle), the 23 large-scale canvases and 17 works on paper, all dating from the 1970s and ’80s, share a wonderfully elusive quality that led Pagel to title the show “Unfinished Business.”
“I think that their works may have been interpreted somewhat simplistically back in the 1980s,” he says, “so I wanted to suggest that there’s more going on than often gets talked about. I’m interested in the messiness of these works, the loose ends, the rough edges, the ambivalence they trigger.”
For the museum’s director, Terrie Sultan, the exhibit not only represents “another chapter in the generations of artists who came to the Hamptons in search of community and creativity,” but also advances the museum’s goal “of illuminating how professional and personal friendships play pivotal roles in artistic development.”
The revelation of “Unfinished Business” comes in how the artists’ works speak to one another—and the conversation can get heated. Pagel, who spent more than two years organizing the show, promises that sparks will fly. “Each of these three artists builds that sort of conflict—that incoherence—into their individual pieces, so I think that will trigger all kinds of things to see and to think about.” “Unfinished Business: Paintings from the 1970s and 1980s by Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle” is on display from August 7 through October 16 at the Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill, 283-2118