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Eric Fausnacht instates the proud chicken

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January 17, 2007   ·   4 Comments

Eric Fausnacht
painting 2006, 001, by Eric Fausnacht

The public rooms of a home never have chicken wallpaper. Those rooms are reserved for parrots and tanagers. The chickens are reserved for the kitchen wallpaper. And chicken tschotschkes are kitsch.

But Eric Fausnacht’s chickens and roosters at Muse Gallery are birds of a different feather. In a way, his paintings and prints that seem to be reproductions of his paintings, make the case for chickens as dandies and grandees. Their plumage is spectacular, at least as Fausnacht paints feathers. And the cockscombs are baroque, looking more like the velvety flower of the same name than like my personal image of a cockscomb.

Eric Fausnacht
November 2006 rooster prints 007, Eric Fausnacht

Just in case you missed his point (I asked in an email why he paints chickens and he sidestepped.), Fausnacht adds wallpaper like patterns–stripes and arabesques behind and sometimes over the birds. And he’s also thinking about their relationship to the paint in the ones he drips over.

Eric Fausnacht
November 2006 rooster prints 003, by Fausnacht

The conversation between the extremely representational creatures and the paint and the patterns is a conversation about realism and painterliness, one worth having in the presence of such fastidious realism and a nice reminder that these are chickens that have been reinvented through the artist’s eye.

In a way, I think Fausnacht has found a place where academy-style painting has a voice in the contemporary conversation. (Fausnacht, after graduating from Millersville with a degree in art education, took course at both University of the Arts and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, according to his online resume).

Ann Craven
Orange Dream, by Ann Craven, 2006, oil on canvas, 48 x 36

The work reverberates with and against the airy pink paintings of Ann Craven, whose casual brushiness of colorful birds on their traditional branches seem to be more about feminine boudoirs and highbrow taste in decoration.

Eric Fausnacht
Paintings, 2006, 002, by Eric Fausnacht

This is not Fausnacht’s subject, really. He is more about challenging that taste, capturing the not-quite-wild life in rather airless indoor settings–and perhaps masculinizing the decorative impulse. His birds stand on firm ground. After all, they are chickens.

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4 Responses to “Eric Fausnacht instates the proud chicken”

  1. Mark says:

    Did you say kitsch and chicken in the same sentence? They’re very sensative birds.

  2. libby says:

    Oh, I forgot that you were a chicken farmer! I have nothing but respect for some chickens and all chicken farmers.

  3. alec says:

    Look at Doug Argue from about 2003 on. Also check out his masterpiece from 1994

  4. libby says:

    Hi, Alec, thanks for letting us all know about this work, which seems to have a very different set of intentions from Fausnacht’s. There’s a tongue in beak quality in Argue’s work, not to mention a bunch of art world influences from Lucas Samaras to Peter Max. Fausnacht seems a little further off that go-go-art-world track. It’s a big art world and lots of room for lots of kinds of chicken fanciers and painters, I guess.

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