Victoria Miro Gallery presents new paintings and works on paper by New York-based Inka Essenhigh, all of which advance the artist's highly stylized investigation of narrative, universal experience and everyday life. Widely known for her fluid, dynamic imagery and inventive figures, with these works Essenhigh has furthered her move from the flatness and line of her earlier enamel paintings towards an almost sculptural three-dimensionality that places these images in the realm of an imagined real.
Essenhigh's paintings explore a diverse range of subjects and indulge in subtly complex narratives. Shopping, for example, presents a wholly du jour scene of women in tracksuits examining round steaks in a vast supermarket, their excessively curved physiques fueling a sense of movement. In Brush with Death, a vaguely human apparition escapes the clutches of the grim reaper, while Brand New Camel offers a vision of an artificial, arid land - a surreal desert state both vulnerable and dangerous. A sea-dweller anchored to the ocean floor stretches through a wave towards morning sun in Sleep.
Working directly on canvas with no preparatory drawing, Essenhigh's imagery is often triggered by random associations to find the most 'convenient' narrative, with entire paintings emerging from the mere hint of a shape. Inspired by the functional, ergonomic designs of street clothing, trainers and sports gear, the textures and contours in the works reflect the artist's interest in a fusion of the synthetic with the organic, and in design as a means of control over nature. In contrast to the graphic, cartoon-like quality of Essenhigh's early works, the illusory depth of these paintings infuses the figures with a plausibility, yet the works remain true to the sweeping strokes and amorphous forms that have defined Essenhigh's visual vocabulary.