The Dogs Bark, But The Caravan Goes On

Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam

Galerie Ron Mandos is proud to present the exhibition 'The Dogs Bark, But The Caravan Goes On' by Esiri Erheriene-Essi (UK, 1982). Erheriene-Essi graduated from the University of East London before completing the post-graduate residency at the prestigious De Ateliers in Amsterdam. In 2009 she won the esteemed Dutch Royal Painting prize.

ARTIST TALK // Friday, February 16, 2018 // RSVP 

"One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon's youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: 'I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.' Sometimes I would mention this amazement, but since no one seemed to share it, nor even to understand it (life consists of these little touches of solitude), I forgot about it."
Roland Barthes - Camera Lucida

"Just like Roland Barthes, I happen on a lot of photographs that evoke feelings of amazement and I save these images (and the feelings I get from them) in an ever-growing archive. It is from this collection that I select source material for my paintings. I am interested a great deal by history - particularly images, objects, and documents which we can return to, in order to examine both individual and shared memories. The archive is important to me, as it is through these links that I continuously question history. I play with the order of events, the discrepancies, silences, and interruptions - as an assault on the canonical historical narrative. With hindsight, bias and curiosity I take these silences and discrepancies, bring them up to the surface and re-edit the narrative continually in the hope of robbing history of some of its tyrannical power by creating new scenarios. I am incessantly attempting to change our reading of history and to imagine more humane and liberating narratives.

The figures depicted on the canvas in 'The Dogs Bark, But The Caravan Goes On' feature individuals, families and groups of people that (in the 60s, 70s and 80s) migrated from countries in West, Central and East Africa, Suriname, The Caribbean and Haiti in order to establish new lives in Western countries, such as Britain, America, France, The Netherlands etc. The people in these paintings may not have looked at someone as famous as Napoleon, yet I am equally or perhaps even more amazed and captivated by what these people have seen, who they are (or perhaps were) and the relationships that they had with each other, with the person who photographed them, and the world at large."
Esiri Erheriene-Essi Esiri

Erheriene-Essi received her education at Camberwell College of Arts, and the University of East London, before completing her post graduate residency at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. She has been nominated for the Volkskrant Beeldende Kunst Prijs, and has exhibited in Museum of Modern Art Arnhem, Koninklijk Paleis op de Dam, Amsterdam, Museum het Dolhuys, Haarlem, and Arti et Amicitiae amongst others. Her works are included in public and private collections throughout the Netherlands and internationally.

ABOUT Esiri Erheriene-Essi

Esiri Erheriene- Essi lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

"The John Baldessari’s quote: ‘Historical mispronounced sounds like hysterical’ can best describe the theme and concern of my paintings. With this as a basis, I am constantly attempting to disrupt the confidence and assumptions of a reader who is familiar with history, thus, confusing their sense of logical sequence. I do this by challenging, displacing, appropriating and, in some cases, playing with the order of both collective and intimate strands of history, memory, myths, and culture of the past and present. In my alternate universe, I pit the musical 1960s group ‘Diana Ross and the Supremes’ against a repeated backdrop of Baader Meinhof/RAF member Brigitte Mohnhaupt, even though there is no evidence to suggest a connection. I paint figures who were lynched in late 19th and early 20th century America and Europe, but on my canvases, they are liberated through the simple act of eradicating the instrument of the noose and the faces of their tormentors. I remove Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro out of film sequences and place him in an edited solitary setting on canvas. I continuously hinder former president John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy moments before the shots in 1963 - so in my narrative time is frozen and the assassination never actually takes place.

This logic is based on reading encyclopedias and referential yearbooks and seeing the historical narrative transcribed and sequenced in chronological order. Meaning, situations, events and images of the past that have no other relation than the fact that they are historical references of the same time, are being connected and placed side by side. So in my painting universe RAF members were inspired by the music of the Supremes, and the Supremes number-one hit song ‘You keep me hangin’ on’ was triggered by atrocities committed by the RAF. I don't know for sure, but these 'almost connections' and new possibilities of readings of the past is what I'm concerned with and what intrigues me the most.

Above all I am fascinated by a continued investigation of mass media, pop cultural iconography, appropriation, and mythology, as well as repetition of imagery. I am obsessed by the gaps, the silences, the disturbances and the assault in the historical narrative. As I am curious about the infinite possibilities of new readings. Thus, history is imperative to my practice but I am taking these references and facts and rewriting things just a bit." Esiri Erheriene-Essi recently graduated from the prestigious post graduate residency De Ateliers in Amsterdam. In 2006 she finished a master in Fine Arts at the University of East London, after completing her bachelor in Media Studies at the same university. Her work was exhibited in several galleries in London and Amsterdam.