Inka Essenhigh is a New York based painter whose surrealist paintings feature dramatic figure distortions, moody palettes, impossibly vibrant hues, and mythical landscapes. She manages to transform simple every-day situations into extraordinarily fantastic scenes from a fictitious world. Drawing on imagination, Essenhigh creates intricately detailed topographies, pulling viewers into a whole new realm of existence.
Her influence by modern Surrealism is especially apparent in In Bed, depicting a malformed humanoid blob writhing in a sea of undulant, animated blankets, battling an army of its own inner demons. She often includes influential, dark, psychological intimations, inviting a contemplation of the unknown. Viewers are then lent to the mercy of their own imaginations.
Essenhigh also revives myth and antiquity, often including characters of lore, gods, goddesses, nymphs, sprits, and elves in her paintings. Green Goddess II and similar are redolent of animism. The woodlands are depicted as a sentient creature, leaving the relationship between nature and humanity equivocal.
Spring Bar Scene displays a hallucinogenic theme, casting slimy, green characters in a boozy, uncouth atmosphere. The bargoers seem raucous; they sway and carouse while the bartenders maintain a seemingly affectionate demeanor. Essenhigh recontextualizes the bar atmosphere into a grand, whimsical new territory where her ghoulish characters are fused together and their energy animates the composition.
A selection of the artist’s paintings and drawings in Inka Essenhigh: Between Worlds are on display at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in the Gordon Contemporary Artist Project Gallery until October 9th, 2016.