A vanguard figure in contemporary art’s triumphant return to painting in the 1980s, David Salle is famed for a postmodern approach which layers and juxtaposes a variety of visuals – art-historical quotation, advertising appropriations, abstract intrusions, and female nudes, sometimes in outlandish costume – in vibrant and disjunctive tableaux. A frequently overlooked element of Salle’s paintings is that the nude figures are less often derived from found imagery than from carefully staged photographs of models taken in his studio. Executed in 1992-1995 as part of a series of large-scale works, Ghost #5 represents a fascinating evolution in Salle’s practice. Its source image is born of a single photo session with his longtime model Beverly Eaby, who posed nude with a king-size bedsheet, resulting in the ghostly suggestion of figure implied by the title. In black and white upon a tripartite ground – the three linen panels are sewn together – the viewer glimpses the folds, shadows and outlines of Eaby’s improvised stance. The upper panels are overlaid with two broad bands of steel blue and canary yellow ink, creating further veils of concealment and depth to peer through. The result is an apparition of ethereal beauty and profound conceptual insight. Rather than reproducing a photograph in paint, to create the Ghost series Salle exposed his negatives directly onto photosensitised linen before applying the swathes of coloured ink. A compound interplay of medium, fabrication and image is thus created – between Eaby’s spontaneous manipulation of the sheet and her body, Salle’s stitching of the tripartite linen surface, its chemical reception of the photograph that records Eaby’s action, and the subsequent shrouds of colour hand-painted by the artist. Extending Salle’s magisterial investigation into the unstable status of image production and the complex role of the creator therein, Ghost #5 forms a compelling collision of painting, photography and performance. ‘It’s not either/or,’ Salle has said. ‘Sometimes I see myself, dopey as it sounds, as a kind of synthesiser. Maybe that’s not too bad – I just read somewhere that Proust didn’t know what genre he was writing in’ (D. Salle in conversation with H. Foster, in K. Marta (ed.), David Salle: Ghost Paintings, Chicago 2013, p. 55).