Inka Essenhigh - The Blazing World, 2019 (detail)

Inka Essenhigh

Pop Surrealism

October 29, 2013

An American contemporary painter, Inka Essenhigh is widely known and recognized for her richly colored distorted fables peopled with archetypes, sprites, and anthropomorphized nature. Often the result of automatic drawing and free association, her fluid, dreamlike imagery references graphic novels and the golden age of animation.

Born in 1969 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Essenhigh currently lives and works in New York. She studied at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio and earned a Master of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has taught at the New York Academy of Art and was a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Her work has been shown in venues such as Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI, The Drawing Center, New York, NY, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY, Fondazione Stelline, Milan, Italy, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, and The Ukrainian Museum, New York, NY, among others.

Essenhigh's imagery blends abstraction and figuration, going back and forth between the two, and is imbued with a sense of a collective unconscious and mischievous narratives. As she describes it, her mythologies strive for "the feeling of an inner vision" captured during the witching twilight hours. Early in her career, she often made use of automatic drawing early on in her career, over the years shifting to a very intentional use of narrative content.

Featured image: Inka Essenhigh - The Blazing World, 2019 (detail). Enamel on canvas. 60 × 84 × 2 in. 152.4 × 213.4 × 5.1 cm. This is a unique work. Photo courtesy Kavi Gupta Gallery