Critical analysis of Eric Fishl's painting "Bad Boy" | MyPaperHub

Eric Fischl was one of the outstanding artists of the 1980s. “Bad boy” is one of the arts that he terms as one of the best paintings he ever made and was both famous and notorious. The 66 x 96 inches oil on canvas painting contains an Oedipal drama of its kind. On the painting, there is a mattress laid down on the floor of a green-themed bedroom. The mattress has some blue colored bed sheets, and there is a nude woman that is holding her toenails lying on the mattress (Fischl). There is also a boy in the room seated just at the edge of the mattress, and the woman seems oblivious of his presence even though she is naked. The boy appears to be her son and is leaning against a dresser staring at her nude body. The scene is heightened further by the fact that the boy is stealing something from the purse that is behind him since he has his hand inside. An action suggests theft and sexual penetration at the same time. Some alternating shades of light penetrate into the room coming in through a half-open window, a tiger is stripping the scene and heightens the tension of revelation and secrecy that is in the room. There is a still bowl on one end that contains apples, bananas that could be interpreted as the Freudian apples, and bananas further increasing the symbolism that is highly used in the painting (Fischl).

Eric Fischl also wrote a memoir for the painting titled Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas. "Bad Boy" equates the boys; a moment of sexual discovery that is represented by the theft as he published in the memoir. According to him, the painting extended the larger themes that ran throughout his work. He focused in family dysfunction, careless inattention from the parents, narcissism and parents that were blind to the needs of their children. He also majors on the suburban culture that blurred the line between the sexual and bought the power of individuals and made it difficult to discern between the genuine and superficial look of things (Fischl and  Stone, p. 10-20).

Bearing in mind that “Bad Boy” was painted during the first year of Reagan’s administration as president, it is interesting that the painter engaged all his artistic effort at challenging the society that was on the verge of regressing to the soothing culture and political fantasies. The same society that was under the administration of Reagan, who was brought up in an alcoholic and dysfunctional home just like the painter. Fischl was the first artist that consistently channeled and attempted to exorcise the sexual and emotional angst among the straight American males even during, after, and after the Reagan administration.

It is easy to realize that most of the works by Fischl had a boy’s point of view. He once reiterated that most of his works came from ideas given by his nephew. However, it is clear that even from the standpoint; he brought out a subversive mix of sex and power in his art an aspect that was very vivid in the Bad boy art.

Working with a co-author, the book Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas, was well written. It was a -mix of autobiography, art and aesthetic self-justifications and is clearly argued. The book contains some very frank and revealing moments depicted in his art. It is a factor that most critics argue that he is at times too straightforward with his revelations. He describes the mother’s alcoholism and her eventual suicide in a clear way. He also documents how he tried to reason out with her following the family facing a financial setback, and yet her mother opted to die other than face the suburban life broke.

The tone of the book is one that has an abject sincerity that leaves on wondering how heartfelt the works by Fischl get. He comes from a point of genuine emotion as he demonstrates the “Bad Boy” work. He does not twist the public with images that were calculated and intended to be a sensation but instead opts to give an emotional and sincere account of his painful early life. It is an indication that his career works were a case of an attempt to offer himself a therapeutic process so as to attain wholeness that he so much sought.

Fischl argues that what the critics of his works argue as being awkward and embarrassing sexual situations and at times the premise that his technique was inept, are what is necessary and right. It is because, they offer an authentic appeal to the reality of the inspiration behind the works as his work dealt with harsh truths and not the glossy fantasies that some of the critics would hope for in his works. The art containing the nudity and the boys stealing indicated his family’s secrecy and shame. The ordeals inspire the artwork. As a narrative painter, Fischl was pitting himself against the modernist tradition that countering what he perceived as being hopeless unproductiveness.

In conclusion, “Bad Boy” takes the reader, and the viewer of the art on a roller coaster ride through the passion and politics of art world as it had never seen before. The level of sincerity and accounts of his life in the art may be alarming to some but was a clear-cut style that set Fischl out from the other painters and artists of his time. It is his courage and guts to try out give the truth as it is that has made his works and more so the “Bad Boy” piece a sensation though it marked the beginning of the then end of his career as an artist to reckon with among his generation.  

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