Interview: Esiri Erheriene-Essi in Juxtapoz Magazine

We are delighted to share Esiri Erheriene-Essi latest interview with Juxtapoz Magazine.

“It’s impossible to feel indifferent to the tasty work of London-born and Amsterdam-based painter Esiri Erheriene-Essi. And I specifically say, “tasty,” because the first thing that whets your appetite is the mouth-watering, tangy, gummy bear palette. She will then intrigue with familiar visuals of everyday people doing everyday things, teasing your perception with thick, textured surfaces marked by bold, gesture-based visual language.

Through a body of work developed over the last decade, Esiri aims to fill the gaps of a universal narrative that has often been overlooked by history. Dedicating her practice to subjects who play crucial roles embodying racial inclusion and justice, Esiri paints mostly large-scale figures of people of color worldwide. With portrayals of the most mundane of daily activities once reserved in our collective recorded history as predominantly white stories, Esiri recreates the past the way it actually looked.

Just weeks after her latest pieces were exhibited at the iconic Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam as a part of the Prix de Rome award ceremony, we talked with Esiri about the concept of her work, maternity, hoarding, and time traveling.”


Read the full interview here: 

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.