Appropriating the theme of Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave, Inka Essenhigh’s Blue Wave crests with sculptural solidity. Essenhigh deviates from the flat designs and enamel application of her early work. Using oil paint she infuses her scene with manufactured vivacity: this heroic depiction of nature is rendered with the aesthetics of computer animation. Like Hokusai’s woodcut print, Essenhigh uses the stillness of stylised formations to contemplate the drama of a raging seascape. Flaunting their artificiality, the turquoise waves seduce with a certain menace, their razor sharp peaks extending with decorative threat.
In Pup Tent, Inka Essenhigh shifts to a more realistic style with poetic sensitivity, translating her graphic designs into a softly rendered 3D world. Her mythological scene unfolds with the compositional order of her earlier enamel paintings: compacted configurations, affiliated by trailing ephemera, engulfed by a swooping mass of flowing motion. In this new painterly language, Essenhigh gives real tangibility to form: her figure comes to life with porcelain-like delicacy, and the fabric flows with defined texture rather than calligraphied patterns. Trading her factitious palette for gothic monochrome, Essenhigh capitalises on the richness and depth of the medium to create a painting that is elegant and haunting.