Dear Nemesis

May 22, 2014, 8:44am

Open Letter to an Enemy: Nicole Eisenman

Dear Nemesis,

When Western painters in the mid-late 1800s imagined the exotic landscape of the East, it was filled with caricature and hyperbole. Style comes into question more in this genre than any other, because the paintings are topical – what you see on the surface, its stylization, its aesthetics, all contribute to the imaginary. In many ways, each painting from this genre is an open letter to an enemy. This is the same type of address cited in the title of Nicole Eisenman’s recent exhibition, Dear Nemesis, which just closed at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) St. Louis and will soon be travelling to the ICA Philadelphia – a survey collection of over 120 works, primarily paintings and some sculpture, since the early 1990s. Just over a century apart, and yet so related in method, the opponent in question for Eisenman is not outside of the artist, as it was in the past, but is used instead as a frame for her method of production. Both styles of painting beg the question: without gross inaccuracy, how else can you paint pure invention? - Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor

Nicole Eisenman | Guy Reading The Stranger, 2011, 76" x 60"

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