Ed Paschke, “Gypsy Blue”, 2001, Oil on Linen, 36 x 40 Inches
Ed Paschke was born in Chicago where he spent most of his life as an important painter. He was initially associated in the late 1960s with the second generation of Chicago Imagists who called themselves The Hairy Who. He received his B.F.A. from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago in 1961 and his M.F.A. in 1970.
Between 1961 and 1970, Paschke lived for a time in New York where he easily came under the influence of the Pop Art movement, in part, because of his interests as a child in animation and cartoons. His fascination with the print media of popular culture led to a portrait-based art of cultural icons. Paschke used the celebrity figure, real or imagined, as a vehicle for explorations of personal and public identity with social and political implications.
Although his style is representational, with a loose affiliation to Photorealism, Paschke’s art plays heavily upon expressionist distortion and abstract form. The often grotesque cast to his paintings suggests an affiliation in spirit with Surrealism, a movement that has historically interested Chicago artists and collectors.
In the 1970s, Paschke’s figures, now presented primarily as headshots in extreme close-ups, began to wear masks and unusual headgear. Colors became electric; forms were increasingly distorted by video-like disturbances; facial features of mouth, eyes, and nose were hollowed out or veiled with aggressive color shapes. These features became standard elements of Paschke’s disquieting and compelling art.