Blais, who came to the forefront of the international art scene in the 1980s, situates the human figure at the core of his practice, often pointing to the body’s vulnerability and fragmentation in the modern world. Recently Blais has turned to textiles and sewn fragments of clothing for his materials—a direction he explores in this lithograph.
Unusual in format and technique, Panoply #3 features a photographically rendered women’s garment overlaid with a disembodied head. Enhancing the work’s eerie presence, Blais printed the image on a sheet of rubber — a material he favors for its textural similarity to skin. He then cut along the contours of the tunic and head, playing the role of tailor, butcher, and artist all at once. Seemingly mutilated and flayed for display, this shadowy figure tacked to the wall communicates a palpable sense of violation and absence.
Discussing this work, Blais has said, "I feel that every picture of someone—whether a photograph, a painting, or a fashion image—has more or less something to do with ghosts." Images, he suggests, both mechanical and hand-made, are feeble specters meant to stand in for robust human complexities. Titled after the armor of a warrior, Panoply #3 hints at the body’s susceptibility to the ravages of representation.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA HIghlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art , p. 190.