Best remembered for large psychedelically-colored figurative oil paintings, Ed Paschke is less well-known for etching and other intaglio printmaking processes, although he learned them as a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1960s. Tattooed figures have appeared frequently in Paschke’s work. In 1969 he painted a series of tattooed shoe paintings, in which he reflected on the interchangeability of leather and flesh in symbolic representation. He observed parallels in contemporary society, between people becoming more like objects with emblematic surface textures and patterns—and objects asserting their human-like identities via tattoos. “Our identity is woven into the fabric of surface information that we orchestrate and present to the world,” Paschke has remarked. After the shoes series, he returned to the human figure with cooler objectivity and introduced extreme structural changes and distortions to it.
Paschke’s exhibitionist figures usually pose unselfconsciously and confrontationally for an imaginary voyeur. However, in this later etching from 1993 entitled No (derived from the tattoo on the female figure’s temple), the pose and the very title directly address and resist the aggression of the voyeur’s gaze, perhaps with Barbara Kruger’s now classic photomontage Your Gaze Hits the Side of My Face (1981-83) in mind.