Heterochromia is a meditation on women artists, from the 18th century to the present.
All of the painting portraits are one size, 48 x 39 inches, obliquely referencing the stereotyping of women in general, and female artists in particular. Each artist, regardless of her trajectory, is bounded by the same dimensions.
Although the paintings start from documented images of the artists, their interior existence is addressed through the stark contrast in eye color within each portrait – one eye to represent the stereotyped role, or mask, of the artist in society – the other eye the interior self without the constraints of gender norms stifling creativity.
– Eric Finzi
Eric Finzi: Histories in Flux
By Shana Nys Dambrot
Throughout art history, most women were seen through the filter of the male gaze, a perspective more concerned with physical beauty and allegorical impact than the inner lives of the models — much less the presence of women on the creative side of the easel. In his new Heterochromia series painter Eric Finzi depicts historical female artistic geniuses in his signature quasi-abstract, process-based technique. From within fractured auras, tectonic color blocks, entropic surfaces, and luminous, fraught textures, not only do the women return that steady gaze, but through these evocative, materially lush portraits, they command attention for the mysterious depth of their own unique philosophical and artistic visions.
Finzi has chosen a range of figures to portray, from Camille Claudel to Cindy Sherman, Georgia O’Keeffe, Lee Miller, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Yoko Ono. While honoring the indelible cultural influences of these women is central to the project, Finzi is equally interested in the less visible aspects of who they were as people, the stories behind their stories, especially in the context of the obstacles women artists confront, historically and at present. The richness of their minds and the force of their skills inspire the psychological likenesses that animate these portraits far more than realism.
In previous series, Finzi has explored the elusive connections between portraiture, abstraction, and narrative in other ways. “I am fascinated by the unwritten history, the story that remains murky and at the edge,” he says. “Our minds love to simplify to make sense of our surroundings; the real world is anything but simple. I reintroduce serendipity and chaos.” This he does not only through his choice of subject, but especially in his germane choice of medium; gravity-directed flowing resins that in their physicality give form to the psyche, not in spite of, but due to, their flaws. “Perfection is overrated!,” says Finzi. “I prefer the messiness of accidents and unconscious selection to too much prefrontal cortex.”
Though recognizable at distance, on approach the images dissolve into eddies and pools and almost organic, geological surfaces that Finzi says convey “more about principles of thermodynamics than cognitive thinking.” If those sound like something a doctor would say, that’s because Finzi is also a doctor. His focus in medicine is on skin, which has doubtless informed his penchant for physiognomy. Despite the precision his medical practice requires, as the properties of his medium rush toward abstraction and expressionism, the flowing resin rather than the careful control of a brush creates an array of optical and emotional energy. “Resin has properties that limit control,” notes Finzi. “It’s a good metaphor for life.”
Image Top Left: Cindy Sherman.
Bottom row, left to right: Lee Miller, Camille Claudel, Yoko Ono.
All works are epoxy resin & pigments on panel, 48 x 39 inches.