Jacob Lewis Gallery as its inaugural exhibition is pleased to present Inka Essenhigh. Comet Dust & Crystal Shards, the artist’s latest body of paintings on paper, will be on view October 17 through November 15. There will be a public reception for the artist on Thursday October 16, 6-8pm.
Inka Essenhigh’s work evokes a mysterious world of subjective, often lyrical fantasy. The lush natural world she creates, loosely inspired by the landscape around her summer studio in rural Maine, transforms into an inner world through abstraction, at once earthly yet eternal. Allowing tangible to serve the intangible, Essenhigh’s richly painted creatures morph from spirit into nature, blurring lines between real and imaginary, exploring the ghosts of the collective unconscious. In her work, Essenhigh gives nod to the decorative themes of the French symbolists, like Redon and Moreau, but also embraces elements typically seen in Japanese anime.
Summer Landscape, an investigation into the energy of Pan, the ancient god of the wild and companion of the nymphs, is propelled by abstract emotion more than concrete mythological narrative. Nature and figure oscillate as form becomes earth and returns back again as new life, a universal and physical regeneration of both shape and being. Earthly flower petals and leaves shed to form sprinkles of light on the cosmic underground.
City Blossom references the flat and strangely proportioned features of the style, as Essenhigh’s otherworldly light and fluidity transform mischievous spirits into celestial beings. Challenging borders between urban and mythological worlds, buildings and city streets mix with dusty orange shapes and figures, creating a truly abstract, ethereal cityscape. Essenhigh’s playful creatures seem to be drawing energy from the flora in the scene, determined to altar their physical states through this surging of nature and soul.
Inka Essenhigh was born in 1969. She studied at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio (1991) and the School of Visual Arts in New York (1992-1994). Essenhigh’s work is in a number of public collections, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; P.S.1 Center for Contemporary Art/ MoMA, New York, NY; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Tate Gallery, London, England; Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, DC; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. The artist currently lives and works in New York City.