Nicole Eisenman

Shooter 1, 2016
Shooter 2, 2016
Long Distance, 2015
45 untitled monotypes, 2011
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

One of the most celebrated artists of her generation, Nicole Eisenman is recognized for her distinctive representational style that incorporates references ranging from art history to popular culture and current events. While her paintings are in intimate dialogue with past traditions, they are also driven by the artist’s investigation of the medium’s potential in the present and for the future. Eisenman‘s subjects alternate from the epic to the mundane, offering a commentary on contemporary life by engaging with issues such as gender, race, social inequality, personal relationships, anxiety about the future, and the role of technology in our lives. Formally, Eisenman’s paintings distinguish themselves through the remarkable use of colours and textured brushwork.

Shooter 1 and Shooter 2 (2016) reference recent shootings in the United States. Compositionally, they are the closest the artist has come to abstraction. In both works, the oversized gun is pointing at the viewer with the muzzle replacing the eye of the protagonist. These confrontational paintings do not reveal the identity of the gun holder (a terrorist or a policeman?) Indeed, it may not matter who pulls the trigger as long as the expected results are achieved. The paintings also reveal the vulnerability one feels living today in the Western world, particularly in the United States.

Long Distance (2015) touches on a very different theme—the twenty-first century long-distance romance maintained with the help of video-chat technology. Once again, the protagonists are unidentifiable, becoming symbolic substitutes for all couples engaged in such relationships. Eisenman’s cropped close-up perspective denotes the intimate nature of the exchange and the ease with which the pair is allowing technology to mediate that closeness.