oil on linen
25 7/8" x 48"
Ed Paschke saved photographs—primarily portraits—clipped from newspapers, magazines, and even handbills as inspiration for new paintings. Having selected a photograph from this vast collection to work from, he would use a projector to enlarge and trace the image onto his canvas. This underdrawing would serve as the basis for an initial painting, done only in black, of the main forms—abstracted and distorted—onto which he would eventually add his brilliantly hued colors. Paschke was not only fascinated by the progression of black and white photographs and film to color, but also by the artifice associated with the transmission of an image onto the omnipresent television screen in the 1980s.
While the source image for La Chanteuse isn’t known, we can ascertain from the painting’s title that the main character is a female lounge singer. A common trope in film noir, the chanteuse is often found in a smoky lounge, singing on stage, a spotlight shining on her forlorn and sullen face. Typically a femme fatale, her beauty and dazzling costume seduces and mesmerizes the crowd while a dark sense of foreboding perfumes the air. Paschke captures her allure as she faces us, her mouth formed into a wide arc while she croons. A man whose face is entirely abstracted except for his ear, listens and lurks over her shoulder on the right. His jacket is covered in spots, perhaps suggesting a lounge lizard—a dapper gentleman intent on seducing a wealthy woman. The pair are barely in focus, yet we can envision their archetypal forms. In La Chateuse, the visual distortions heighten the dark emotion of the scene that pulses and fluctuates before our eyes, much like a film projected onto a screen in a darkened room.
Purchase, through the Rudolph and Louise Langer Fund