Dustin Yellin and Eric Fischl’s Two-Person Show Reconsiders the Human Figure

In an unusual pairing with beautiful results, Seattle’s Winston Wächter Fine Art presents a two-person show featuring Eric Fischl and Dustin Yellin. The artists’ respective works find unexpected congruities: Fischl’s loose and light paintings, drawings, and sculptures contrast with Yellin’s dense, monumental sculptural collages, but both are intimately concerned with the human form, movement, and culture.

Yellin’s work spans several disciplines and draws from many others. He explains, “As an artist, I really want to get into a room and talk to a scientist who inspires me, and most of the scientists I know are musicians because of the math, and most of the musicians I know want to be making paintings when they’re not making music because it’s cathartic.” He creates life-size figurative sculptures by layering complex collages between successive glass sheets. The collages incorporate clipped photographs—including recurring motifs such as butterflies, flowers, and architectural elements—that are combined as discrete marks to form large, three-dimensional figures. Some of those works include painting, augmenting the photographic material with the artist’s hand. Figure 22 (2013) features a standing figure raising one hand; it is corporeal, and yet almost immaterial, composed from images of flora, ancient statuary and architecture, photographic portraits, and colored spots. This imagery coalesces into a body, but dissolves into an index of the world on close inspection.

Eric Fischl, long known for his vivid Neo-Expressionist paintings, presents a series of watercolors in warm tones. They’re loose and handsome. Likewise, two untitled paintings in ink and poured resin depict people lounging in a seaside atmosphere of radiant heat and social affability. Here he also exhibits glass sculptures, which pleasantly echo Yellin’s. These works incorporate elements of the playful ambiguity found in his paintings, calling attention to subtleties of gesture and movement in the subjects’ bodies. His Tumbling Woman II (2013), a recurring image in his sculptural work, is dynamic: she rolls on her back, her legs extending outward over the rectangular base. In Untitled (Squatting Woman) (2012), a woman crouches to examine an unidentified object in her left hand. She’s given additional narrative context, glancing over her left shoulder at something that has caught her attention.

Both artists engage in a playful and inventive discourse around figuration, breaking free of academic constraints around subject matter and representation. They seek to capture subjective experience: the sensations and social dynamics of the body in the world, and their resulting luminous work feels both present and timeless.

Dustin Yellin and Eric Fischl: Narratives in Glass and Other Mediums” is on view at Winston Wächter Fine Art, Seattle, Sept. 10th–Oct. 30th, 2014.

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