Inka Essenhigh (b. 1969 in Bellefonte, PA) received her Master of Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts, New York, NY and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, OH.
Essenhigh’s work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY; Victoria Miro Gallery, Venice, Italy; Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago, IL; The Drawing Center, New York, NY; Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI; Frist Center, Nashville, TN; Honolulu Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland; and Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO.
The artist has been included in group exhibitions at numerous international institutions including the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA; Carré d’Art - Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes, Nîmes, France; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME; FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY; Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense, Denmark; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY; Royal Academy of Arts, London, United Kingdom; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; SMAK: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuelle Kunst, Ghent, Belgium; Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom, and elsewhere.
Her work may be found in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Miami, FL; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY; Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others.
Essenhigh lives and works in New York, NY.
We are thrilled to return to The Armory Show for the fair's 2023 edition at the Javits Center.
Congratulations to Inka Essenhigh on The Farnsworth Museum of Art's recent acquisition of Forest with Dappled Light (2022).
Inka Essenhigh is interviewed by Katie White for artnet news.
Inka Essenhigh's exhibition is included in Cultured Magazine + Arkive's NY Art Week Guide.
Inka Essenhigh's current exhibition is highlighted as a "Must-See" in Galerie Magazine this May.
Inka Essenhigh is included in the exhibition Rounding the Circle: The Mary and Al Shands Collection, on view at the Speed Art Museum through 6 August.
Inka Essenhigh is included in Salomé Gómez-Upegui's Artsy article, The New Generation of Transcendental Painters.
Inka Essenhigh is included in The View from Here at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.
Inka Essenhigh and April Gornik are included in the exhibition "Empire of Water" at The Church in Sag Harbor, NY.
The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is pleased to present "New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century," a group exhibition featuring Inka Essenhigh and seventy-six artists and collectives.
"The exhibition is organized around eight themes: hysteria; the gaze; revisiting historical subjects through a feminist lens; the fragmented female body; gender fluidity; labor, domesticity, and activism; female anger; and feminist utopias."
The exhibition will remain on view until 30 January 2022.
Idiosyncratic Nature: Donald Kuspit on Inka Essenhigh’s Flowers and Patrice Charbonneau’s Shoals
"Essenhigh’s paintings are indebted to, not to say inspired by, traditional art, not only because they make use of classical myth, however much her figures may be transformed into surreal mirages, but because of their meticulous, even exquisite execution, her mastery of sprezzatura, the art that conceals art, and their baroque-like character, not to say their idiosyncratic beauty."
When the Painting Has Really Begun
On the mid-career work of Cecily Brown and Inka Essenhigh.
"Musings on the fate of judgment have been much on my mind since seeing exhibitions by a couple of painters, Inka Essenhigh and Cecily Brown, who in the late 1990s seemed to me without doubt to be among the most promising painters on the New York scene. They recently exhibited their latest efforts in New York, at the Miles McEnery Gallery and the Paula Cooper Gallery, respectively."
ON VIEW: American Painter Inka Essenhigh’s Surrealist Scenes Offer a Very Enjoyable Distraction From the News—See Them Here
"Escape from the stress of the day with these luscious, fantastical landscapes."
Chelsea Explodes in Color: Inka Essenhigh exhibits new paintings at Miles McEnery Gallery
"A quick trip through the Chelsea show makes it obvious why Essenhigh’s stock is rising. In these colorful, dreamlike images, one can spot influences ranging from comic books to anime. But this isn’t really pop art nor is it completely surreal. Often there are straightforward representations, but the longer one looks the more one notices something’s just a little off in a way that evokes the psychology of the greatest fairytales."
Surrealism Reloaded. Images from the Subconscious
Sometimes all you need is a sunrise and a piece of moss: Inka Essenhigh’s works are populated by mythological creatures. While painting, she relies entirely on her inner self.
The inaugural edition was a surprisingly big success. As year two kicks off, here's what to look for.
Last year, the fledgling new art fair Taipei Dangdai: Art & Ideas made mincemeat of the commonly held belief that it takes a fair a few years to build a solid art world following. The inaugural edition turned out big-name blue-chip galleries, famed global collectors (and Chinese movie stars), and, most importantly, robust sales. Oh, and yes, the fair even had its very own giant inflatable KAWS sculpture to draw in the crowds.
Inka Essenhigh’s painted visions are richly colored distorted fables peopled with archetypes, sprites, and anthropomorphized nature. The paintings breathe and undulate with life as ocean becomes sea monster, tree becomes goddess, or hipster bar-goers become drunken ghouls. The imagery is imbued with a sense of a collective unconscious and mischievous narrative that makes its way into each landscape, building, and figure. As she describes it, her mythologies strive for “the feeling of an inner vision” captured during the witching twilight hours.
Featuring works by gallery artists Inka Essenhigh, April Gornik, Amy Bennett, and Isca Greenfield-Sanders, new book Landscape Painting Now: From Pop Abstraction to New Romanticism presents a global survey of landscape painting in the 21st century. Including work by more than 80 outstanding artists, the book highlights the thriving genre of landscape painting in the contemporary world, while also reflecting upon its origins.
NEW YORK, March 18, 2019—The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced today the nine artists who will receive its 2019 awards in art. The awards will be presented in New York City in May at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial. The art prizes and purchases, totaling over $250,000, honor both established and emerging artists. The award winners were chosen from a group of 32 artists who had been invited to participate in the Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, which opened on March 5, 2019. The exhibition continues through April 7, 2019, and features over 100 paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, and works on paper. The members of this year’s award committee were: Judy Pfaff (chairman), Lois Dodd, Rackstraw Downes, Yvonne Jacquette, Bill Jensen, Catherine Murphy, Philip Pearlstein, and Dorothea Rockburne.
NEW YORK, February 4, 2019—Paintings, sculptures, video, photographs, and works on paper by 32 contemporary artists will be exhibited in the galleries of the American Academy of Arts and Letters on historic Audubon Terrace (Broadway between 155 and 156 Streets) from Thursday, March 7 through Sunday, April 7, 2019. Exhibiting artists were chosen from over 130 nominees submitted by the members of the Academy, America’s most prestigious honorary society of architects, artists, composers, and writers. The recipients of the Academy’s 2019 Art and Purchase Awards will be selected from this exhibition.
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is pleased to present:
A Fine Line
15 September – 6 January 2019
Opening Reception: 27 September, 5:30 – 8:00pm
Inka Essenhigh creates beautiful, whimsical worlds populated with fluid, ambiguous figures. Their playfulness invites us into their delightful, other-worldly realm of melting dreams.
When I come across a work of art as weird and seductive and startlingly beautiful as an Inka Essenhigh painting, I haven’t the faintest desire to engage in my critical faculties. I just want to be overcome by the supple, erotic strangeness of her surrealist narratives; the chitinous sheen of her works’ surfaces; her Prada-meets-Star Trek palette; and the gelatinous, ectomorphic figures. You want to dissolve into an Essenhigh painting, in the same way that she dissolves virtually all solidity within her forms and spaces. Every body, every thing looks as though it’s made of melted caramel, or flowing silk, or liquid latex suspended midair, or some sinuous, alien protein.
Essenhigh reveals a freedom that resonates with all manner of fusion: of figure and design, of abstraction and narrative, of sentiment and humor, and more generally, of ambitious painting with a readable narrative.
Inka Essenhigh's paintings, which combine twisted narratives, liquid line work, and oneiric imagery, are at once otherworldly and rooted in specific times and places. This season, that dissonance will be on display in a trio of new projects. This month, the artist’s surreal landscapes and fever-dream interiors will occupy the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. In April, New York’s Drawing Center will present Manhattanhenge, a site-specific mural for the Soho building’s stairwell. And later that month, she’ll open her first solo show with Miles McEnery Gallery in Chelsea.
As part of its ongoing series of commissions for the Stairwell, The Drawing Center has asked New York artist Inka Essenhigh to create a site-specific wall drawing. Essenhigh’s installation will be the third in the series, following Gary Simmons’s Ghost Reels (2016–18) and Abdelkader Benchamma’s Dark Matter (2015–16).
The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) celebrates the opening of Inka Essenhigh: A Fine Line. Essenhigh gained national attention in the late 1990’s and is known for her experiments with enamel paint, traditional oils, and printmaking. Inspired by time spent in New York City and Maine, Essenhigh developed her signature use of line by practicing automatic drawing. Fantastical images of the everyday, both urban and rural, distinguish her work.
Artist Inka Essenhigh spent the early years of her career thinking that her fluid, feminine paintings were a no-no.
As she painted graceful fairies, ghosts and woodland creatures that played in colorful, mystical universes, her art friends called them lightweight and kitschy.
But the work felt right, so the New York-based artist kept creating.
Through her painting, Inka Essenhigh provides an authentic voice. Since her emergence into the art world during the late 1990’s, she has created a path for herself that consistently questions and redefines her relationship with her media. She has moved from using enamel paint to traditional oils and back; creating hybrids of the two. Her substrates have included paper, canvas, and panels. Throughout each phase of experimentation, she created dialogues with her work, navigating how the media and brush interact, sometimes with genuine surprise at the result.
by Will Heinrich
Through 3 September
There’s a smoky texture of hypnagogic disorientation on Henry Street inside the artist-run space Shrine. Loose but elaborate figurative work by a dozen painters and sculptors, all of it small scale and much of it held together by a shared palette of purples and browns, makes for a desperately welcome getaway into the cool fertility of unworldly private fantasy.
In “Study for Monsters of Manhattan,” Inka Essenhigh paints three mysterious women with watery lines and finely observed anatomical details. Alice Mackler’s earthenware figure combines squeezes, pokes and thumbprints with a rooster-colored glaze, creating a startling mannequin of bright-eyed psychological defiance. Kevin McNamee-Tweed’s winning monoprints look like plates from a hobo history of civilization, and in Charlie Roberts’s trippy lavender acrylic of a charismatic dancing house plant, apparently rough edges belie a deeply satisfying sense of balance.