Since the 1990s, Nicole Eisenman (b. 1965) has carved out a place as a central figure in American painting, with a characteristic style that shifts between abstraction and figurative depictions of social environments. In a distinct manner, she makes use of art historical references, playfully reinvigorating elements from the Renaissance, Baroque and social realism, as well as German expressionism, linking these to the present in an idiom that is simultaneously astute and topical.
At first glance her works gives a colourful and celebratory impression, but on closer inspection, they reveal multiple layers of meaning and intricate narratives. While many of her stories are based on characters form her own life, Eisenman also draws attention to societal issues and political frictions. With rich humour, she touches on issues such as identity, sexuality, and politics – mixing in elements of popular culture and counterculture. Eisenman’s unique eye for the complexities of contemporary society and conflicting human emotions, results in sharp and striking observations of our modern reality.
Although best known for her paintings, Eisenman’s practice also includes characteristic sculptural works that have attracted much attention. In addition to a broad selection of paintings, the exhibition thus includes her imposing work Procession from 2018, an ensemble of nine individual sculptures. In their configuration and composition, the burlesque figures form an eclectic parade of different expressions and materials. This massive sculptural installation marked a shift in Eisenman’s practice resulting in a greater focus on sculpture. The artist herself has said: “I believed you could build better narrative with painting, but this work proved to me the same is possible through sculpture.” Here too, humour and satire are lurking in the background, as exemplified by the figure who occasionally emits a cloud of smoke from his rear end – a “post-Trumpian gesture”, as Eisenman puts it.
Nicole Eisenman lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Her works has been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Kunsthalle Zürich and Ludwig Museum in Cologne. In 2019, her work was shown at both the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennale. In 2015, she became part of the MacArthur Fellows Program and in 2018, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Curated by Solveig Øvstebø
Astrup Fearnley Museet
0252 Oslo, Norway