The works of American artist Nicole Eisenman (born in 1965 in Verdun, France) raise questions about social models and the deficits of modern life that deconstruct existing conventions in art and society. Her visual vocabulary combines compositional elements from the pre-Renaissance to the Modernist period with satire, caricature, black humour, slapstick and subcultural visual strategies. Eisenman, who lives and works in New York, thus succeeds in exposing grotesque reformulations of the social order. A frequently recurring theme in her work is the ironic depiction of human individuality.
Following on from Eisenman’s exhibition A Show Called Nowhere in 2005, Galerie Barbara Weiss is now pleased to present the artist’s second solo show at the gallery. The exhibition, entitled Coping, consists of new paintings and monoprints by the internationally renowned artist, who recently exhibited her work in the Kunsthalle Zürich and in FRAC Île-de-France/ Le Plateau in Paris. The concept of ‘coping’ is to be understood as a demand that individuals continually make of themselves. It is elucidated by Eisenman in the following diagram:
In The Session, 2008, Nicole Eisenman introduces the attempt to come to terms with inner doubts and to master everyday life. The artist, whose father worked as a psychoanalyst, also incorporates herself in the painting. The dichotomy between the motivation to come to terms with external reality and deal with one’s inner reality, the existence of fears and crises, runs like a thread through the works on show. The opulent group scene in the painting Brooklyn Biergarten II, 2008 is reminiscent of paintings by Brueghel, for example, but also evokes the Impressionists’ Parisian café house scenes with its keen-eyed observation of a society at leisure. At the same time, you can see closely characterised individuals who are trying to cope with their own situation in the crowd. With grotesque comical approach and references to Edvard Munch, the artist creates beings whose inner emotional workings show through their feigned outward facade.
Nicole Eisenman’s ability to depict black humour and her lively imagination are also evident in the monoprint series of ‘crying’ faces. In addition to being a visualisation of the ‘coping’ concept, the artist sees this portrait series as a critical commentary on the current political situation. At the same time, she emphasises the liberating aspect that crying can have for people. Eisenman’s call for an annual ‘National Crying Day’ is perpetuated in the iconography of her ‘crying’ portraits.
Charlotte von Carmer