Inka Essenhigh b. 1969, USA


Inka Essenhigh is renowned for her dreamlike paintings, which translate her encounters with and intuitions about contemporary society into haunting, playful, sometimes disturbing visual scenes. Essenhigh is part of a generation of artists that includes Rachel Feinstein, Lisa Yuskavage, and Cecily Brown—a generation that rose to prominence in 1990s New York and led the contemporary return to figuration.


Essenhigh paints landscapes from her imagination into which the eyes and minds of viewers might temporarily abscond. Employing a mix of narration, symbolism, and mystery, her paintings explore what about nature can be known and what lurks beyond our perception. Says Essenhigh, “The unknown comes from the painting process, putting brush to canvas. I do have an agenda, and a world I want to create. I’m not interested in meaninglessness. But I am looking for the feeling that the images are coming to me.”