Inka Essenhigh (at the Victoria Miro Gallery (March 15th - April 28th 2000))

By Josephine Berry, 10 July 2000

Resolution is a strange word to apply to a series of paintings as unnerving as Essenhigh’s latest crop, but it is precisely in their integration of antagonisms – their visual and categorical ‘conflict resolution’ – that their unease lies. The perfection of their ‘untouched’, enameled surfaces calms the subcutaneous violence inflicted on their cartoonish protagonists; the sharp precision of their Japanese Ukiyo-e print inspired lines provides a foil to the ambiguity of their subject matter, carried out by faceless, mutant sumo-wrestler-cum-superheroes; the warmth of their aubergine-olive palette counteracts their cyberpunk chill. But perhaps their greatest resolution is between the fields of graphic art and fine art; Essenhigh’s skill is to transform the flat surface zing of comics into the optically enigmatic language of painting.

Josephine Berry