Eric Fischl, Face Off, 2017

It’s a beautiful day in America, yet beneath the surface there is something terribly wrong. A boy of ten years (more or less) stands contemplative at the poolside in the sunshine. The grounds are open/spacious and there appears to be a pool house with Doric columns in the background, suggesting that the scene is set in a resort hotel or an upscale clubhouse, so these figures must be upper class. The older man gazes at the boy. Why is he looking at him? Why does the gaze feel so sinister to us onlookers? Nothing in this painting suggests that the man is a pedophile, and yet, everything screams that he is.⁠⠀
[Aside: the sunlight hits the man and the boy at impossibly different directions – it’s a subtle detail that adds to the unsettling nature of the painting.

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