Esiri Erheriene Essi | Artaward

Esiri Erheriene Essi has been nominated for the Artaward International 2016

Support of the Arts by STRABAG SE

STRABAG SE is a European-based technology group for construction services, a leader in innovation and financial strength. Its services span all areas of the construction industry and cover the entire construction value chain. The company’s international art sponsorship aims to highlight the European dimension of STRABAG SE. Operating from its core markets Austria and Germany, the company is also active in numerous Eastern and South-Eastern European countries as well as in select markets of Western Europe and on other continents. The group is firmly committed to promoting cultural and civic causes in the form of select projects alongside its economic and environmental responsibilities.

For many years, the goal of the international art sponsorship by STRABAG SE has been to highlight the pan-European scale of the group. The successful symbiosis of art and business has long been promoted through the activities of the STRABAG Art Forum, founded in the early 90s in Carinthia. The STRABAG Artaward is an award for the promotion of art in the fields of painting and drawing for artists of up to 40 years. It has been awarded in Austria since 1994 and internationally since 2009.

Between 2015 and 2017, STRABAG Artaward International will be open for applications from Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, North Rhine-Westphalia/Germany and Switzerland.

Award Ceremony: 9th June 2016, STRABAG Artlounge

ABOUT Esiri Erheriene-Essi

Born in 1982 in London, United Kingdom
Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Esiri Erheriene-Essi is predominately a painter of mid to large-scale paintings concerned with figuration, history and society. She is captivated by history – in particular, images, objects, and documents which we can return to, in order to examine both individual and shared memories and histories. A large part of her practice entails collecting and creating an archive, which could potentially become incorporated into her work. Archives are important to the artist as they create links and orders that she can question and play with – she searches for the discrepancies, the silences, in order to, through painting, create interruptions and assaults on the canonical historical narrative. With hindsight, bias and curiosity, she takes these discordances and brings them up to the surface. Erheriene-Essi continuously re-edits the narratives with the hope of robbing history of some of its tyrannical power by creating new scenarios. Or rather, she is incessantly attempting to imagine more humane and liberating narratives than what has gone before. In the process she perhaps slightly changes our readings of history and thereby shows how we write the present.

In her work, Erheriene-Essi makes many references to popular culture, because popular culture is profoundly mythic and loaded. The canvases she makes are a theatre of popular desires and fantasies, where we all can discover and play with the process of identification. These ‘theatrical scenes’ show the imagined as well as the underrepresented, not only to the viewer but also to the artist herself. The paintings ‘play’ in their own way – they are telling a story, even though the scenes have no beginning, middle or end – they are cut off mid flow, out of context, are frozen, silent and still. Yet they have ‘sound’ as if they are performing and want to be heard. The audience is continuously invited to watch as well as to try and decipher the haphazard plot in which characters are encased in. The good thing about performing on canvas is that anything is possible – and that is what intrigues Erheriene-Essi the most.