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Nicole Eisenman presents a concise group of painted reliefs at Anton Kern Gallery
Nicole Eisenman, Untitled, 2017. Oil on cast aluminum, 11 3/4 x 9 x 7/8 inches. Courtesy the artist and Anton Kern Gallery, New York. Photo: Object Studies.

NEW YORK, NY.- Coinciding with her large presentation of five over-life-size bathers at Skulptur Projekte Münster in Germany this summer, New York artist Nicole Eisenman presents a concise group of painted reliefs at Anton Kern Gallery. These surprising explorations of improbably shaped forms and color underscore the artist’s aptitude to fluidly move between painting, drawing, printmaking and the making of sculptures. The exhibition will be on view in the third-floor gallery from Thursday, June 1st through July 7th, 2017.

The painted reliefs presented are unique aluminum casts of found object assemblages, which Eisenman has tweaked and carved to resemble human heads and faces. To amalgamate the often ephemeral and incongruent materials, the artist cast the objects in aluminum, thereby giving a voice to these casual materials and transforming them into legible forms. Finally, Eisenman painted the surface, disregarding naturalistic coloration, in favor of accentuating the expressive qualities of color, line and gesture. The metal surfaces add reflective light and a certain immaterial appearance to the objects.

Eisenman’s painted reliefs occupy a space between the two and threedimensional, the portrait and the mask, between illusionistic representation and concrete presentness of the object. In their peculiar material roughness and connection to the supporting wall, her reliefs seem to have moved just past the threshold of the implied space of painting into the actual realm of sculpture, physically entering the viewer’s sphere of existence.

Of course, the significance and function of portrait reliefs and masks can be traced back to various periods and cultures when magic carried a clear communicative purpose; from the presence of the omnipotent emperor in Roman portrait medallions, to the power to converse with the spirit world imbued onto the bearers of ceremonial masks. Perhaps, Nicole Eisenman’s reliefs faintly reflect some of these forgotten virtues. However, clearly positioned in the present these faces possess enough character, personality and individuality to develop affinities with each other and to engage with the worldly viewer.

Nicole Eisenman is a painter and sculptor living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Her work was the subject of a 2016 mid-career retrospective “Al-Ugh-Ories” at the New Museum, New York. Other recent solo exhibitions include Anton Kern Gallery (2016) and her traveling survey exhibition, “Dear Nemesis, Nicole Eisenman 1993–2013” at The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2015), The Institute of Contemporary Art, (Philadelphia, 2014), and the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis (2014). Recent group exhibitions include “Zeitgeist” at the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva; “Piss and Vinegar” at the New York Academy of Art; and the 2016 Le Biennial de Montreal. She is a 2015 MacArthur Foundation fellow and winner of the 2013 Carnegie Prize. Her work is featured in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; SF MOMA, San Francisco; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. She is included in the upcoming decennial Skulptur Projekte Münster in Münster, Germany, opening in June; and will have a solo exhibition opening in September at Secession, Vienna.

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