Inka Essenhigh's paintings redefine pop as the epitome of aesthetic hierarchy. Her ultra-slick surfaces operate as virtual fields, where estranged narratives play out in cross-wired systems of reference and recognition. Influenced by 19th century caricatures, oriental art, Arabic miniatures, and contemporary comics, Inka Essenhigh's paintings are both exotic and operatic: envisioning futuristic mythologies frozen in dynamic moments of suspended animation.
Central to Inka Essenhigh's work is the concept of epic action; her paintings picture apocalyptic tableaux of invented legend and suburban phenomena. Inka Essenhigh perceives her work as more 'drawings' than paintings; her spontaneous and intimate process lingers as disquiet tension in the polished finish of her canvases. By utilising the language of cartoon illustration, she captures the essence of drama and movement through exaggerated gestures. Her monochrome backgrounds function as empty stages, their wide-open space magnifies the conceptual scale of her paintings; lines act as cues, indicating past and future action, as well as delineating and abstracting form. Inka Essenhigh's formalism conveys a commodified ideal of flux: static energy becomes a device of fetishistic fixation.
Inka Essenhigh's work flits between abstraction and representation; her suggestive forms morph composure of design with quiescent sexual intrigue. Her paintings exude an energy from within: the liquid properties of her media convey an inherent, voyeuristic sensuality. Plastic tones and organic shapes are applied in thin, skin-like layers to create the effect of animation cells, seductive in their self-contained intricacy and precious quality. Her more recent paintings, rendered in oil paint, suggest the detached perfection of 3D animation or virtual reality. The cool gloss effect of her surfaces creates a sense of hyper-artificiality: her paintings offer a baroque beauty that is majestically antiseptic.
Inka Essenhigh's paintings overtly celebrate their superficiality, embracing humour, violence and chaos, within their vapid, magnetic allure. Inka Essenhigh conceives her paintings as being quintessentially American; a brand of futurism that's instantly attractive and sublimely infinite.
- Patricia Ellis