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Inka Essenhigh | The New York Times

Study for Monsters of Manhattan, 2015, Oil and enamel on canvas, 24 x 24 inches

by Will Heinrich

Another Place

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.

The single most lingering detail may be on one of two untitled works by Hawkins Bolden (1914-2005), who lost his sight as a child in Memphis and spent much of his life assembling found junk into scarecrows for his garden. The headless figure is composed of a plastic torso from a child’s doll whose arms and legs have been removed and reaffixed. Three jagged holes pierce the figure’s chest and abdomen, where the nipples and navel would be, as if to form a simple face, and a modest tangle of metal wire emerges from two of the holes. Plastic gears are visible through the neck. But it’s the cruciform arms, designed to look as if they’re reaching for a hug, that I’m still thinking about. Bolden put them on backward.

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