Inka Essenhigh

Installation Views

b. Belfonte, PA Lives and works in New York, NY

Inka Essenhigh (b. 1969, Pennsylvania, US) 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, that rose to prominence in 1990s New York as leaders in the contemporary return to figuration.


Inka 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.”

Solo Exhibitions

2020 Inka Essenhigh, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York

2019 Inka Essenhigh: Uchronia, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL

Other Worlds: Inka Essenhigh, Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA

2018 Inka Essenhigh: A Fine Line, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI

Inka Essenhigh, Miles McEnry Gallery, New York

Manhattanhenge, The Drawing Center, New York

2016 Between Worlds, Frist Centre, Nashville, Tennessee

New Work, Honolulu Gallery, Zurich

2015 Stars and Flowers, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO

2014 Comet Dust & Crystal Shards, Jacob Lewis Gallery, New York Columbus College of Art & Design, Canzani Center, Columbus, OH

2012 The Natural and the Man-Made, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo

Project Room: Inka Essenhigh, Pace Prints, New York

2010The Old New Age, 303 Gallery, New York

2008 Victoria Miro, London

2006 303 Gallery, New York

2005 Victoria Miro, London

DA2 Domus Artium 2, Salamanca, Spain

2004 Sint-Lukas Galerie, Brussels, Belgium

Etchings, Michael Steinberg Fine Art, New York

2003 Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL

Galleria II Capricorno, Venice

Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

2002 Victoria Miro, London

303 Gallery, New York

2001 Works on paper, Victoria Miro (Project Room), London

Works on paper, Mary Boone Gallery, New York

2000 Victoria Miro, London Mary Boone Gallery, New York

1999 New Paintings, Deitch Projects, New York

American Landscapes: Recent Paintings by Inka Essenhigh, New Room of Contemporary Art, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

1998 Recent Paintings, Stefan Stux Gallery, New York

1997 Wallpaper Paintings, La Mama La Galleria, New York

Group Exhibitions

2020 Life During Wartime: Art in the Age of Coronavirus, online exhibition, USF Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, FL

The Figure in Solitude, online exhibition, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL

Radical Optimism, online exhibition, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL

Skirting the Line: Painting between Abstraction and Representation, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, ME

Early Summer, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO

Do You Think It Needs a Cloud?, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY

Evolve: A Changing Exhibition of Work from the Collection, Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME

Really., Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY

2019The American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

FIXED CONTAINED, Kotaro Nukaga, curated by Tomokazu Matsuyama, Tokyo, Japan,

Not All Doors Are The Same, Booth Gallery, New York, NY

2018 Parallel Lives, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL

Belief in Giants, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY

Selections, Pace Prints, New York, NY

2017 Le Nuove Frontier Della Pittura, Fondazione Stelline, Milan, Italy

Summer Group Show, Jacob Lewis Gallery, New York, NY

Another Place, Shrine, New York, NY

2016 Dead Among The Dead!, Ellis King, Dublin, Ireland

Imagine, Brand New Gallery, Milano, Italy

Introductions, La MaMa La Galleria, New York, NY

Women in Print, Pace Prints, New York, NY

Now and Then, New York Academy of Art, New York, NY

2015 Eden, éden, curated by Timothée Chaillou, Galerie Torri, Paris

The Ukrainian Diaspora: Woman Artists 1908-2015, The Ukrainian Museum, New York

Painters NYC, Paramo Gallery, Guadalajara, Mexico; traveling to Museo de los Pintores Oaxaqueños (MUPO), Oaxaca, Mexico

Disturbing Innocence, The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY

2014 Sargent’s Daughters, Sargent’s Daughters, New York

2013 The Golden Ass, Blindarte Contemporanea, Naples, Italy

Cinematic Visions: Painting at the Edge of Reality, Victoria Miro, London

Pivot Points: 15 Years & Counting, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, FL

2012 Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN; touring to Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba, Canada; Glenbow Art Museum, Calgary, Canada The Sound of Painting, Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin, Italy

2011 Inka Essenhigh & Richard Van Buren: Un/Natural Splendor, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport, ME

Inside the Painter’s Studio, Stephen D. Paine Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, MA

Creating the New Century: Contemporary Art from the Dicke Collection, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH

Counterpoint, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport, ME

2010 Between Picture and Viewer, Visual Arts Gallery, New York, NY

2007 Counterparts: Contemporary Painters and Their Influences, Contemporary Center of Art, Virginia

The Game of Multiple Meaning: Symbolism and the Art of the Present, Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, Germany

Comic Abstraction, Museum of Modern Art, New York

COMIX, Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense, Denmark

Imagination Becomes Reality, ZKM / Museum Fur Neue kunst, Karlsruhe, Germany

2006 Painting Codes, Galleria Comunale d’Arte ContemporaneaMonfalcone, Italy

The Complusive Line: Etching 1900 to Now, Museum of Modern Art, New York

USA Today, The Royal Academy of Art, London

Imagination Becomes Reality, Part III. Talking Pictures, Goetz Collection, Denmark

Motion on Paper, Ben Brown Fine Arts, London

Art on Paper 2006, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greenboro, NC

2005 Life and Limb, curated by David Humphrey, Feign Contemporary, New York, NY

Neobaroque, Centro de Arte de Salamanca, Spain

2004 Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque SITESanta Fe 5th International Biennial (curated by Robert Storr), Santa Fe, New Mexico

26th Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Funny Cuts – Cartoons and Comics in Contemporary Art, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany

Perspectives at 25, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston ,TX

2003 Painting Pictures; Painting and Media in the Digital Age, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg

Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; travelling to Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans and University of North Texas, Denton

Supernova: Art of the 1990’s from the Logan Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA

Reverie: Works from the Collection of Douglas S. Cramer, The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

Drawing, G Gallery, Washington D.C.

Heaven & Hell, Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York

2002 The Galleries Show, The Royal Academy of Art, London

Pertaining to Painting, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (28 June – 29 September 2002) and Austin Museum of Art, Texas (November – February 2003)

Jay Davis, Inka Essenhigh, Christian Schuman, Angstrom Gallery, Dallas, TX

La Part de l’Autre, Carre d’Art -Musee d’art contemporain de Nimes, France

Art in the ‘toon age’, Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, MI

2001My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; traveling to Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn (July – October); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio (January – March 2002); Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Illinois (April – June 2002); Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago (July – September 2002); Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio (September – January 2003); Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art, Tacoma, Washington (July –September 2003); Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, Alabama (October – January 2004)

Hybrids, Tate Gallery, Liverpool

braille, Angstrom Gallery, Dallas, TX

2nd Berlin Biennale, Berlin

Works on paper: from Acconci to Zittel, Victoria Miro, London

Casino 2001, 1st Quadrennial of Contemporary Art, SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuelle Kunst, Ghent

2000 Greater New York: New Art in New York Now, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York

The Figure: Another State of Modernism, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island, New York

Deitch/Steinberg New Editions, Deitch Projects, New York

Emotional Rescue, Center for Contemporary Art, Seattle

To Infinity and Beyond, Brooke Alexander, New York

1999 Pleasure Dome, Jessica Fredericks Gallery, New York

The Armory Show, Stefan Stux Gallery, New York

A room with a view, Sixth @ Prince Fine Art, New York

1998 Blade Runner, Caren Golden Fine Art, New York

The New Surrealism, Pamela Auchincloss Project Space, New York

Wild, Exit Art/The First World, New York

Pop Surrealism, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut

Summer Review, 98, Stefan Stux Gallery, New York

Celebrating Diversity: Contemporary Women Painters, Hillwood Art Museum, Long Island University, Brookville, New York

ANATOMY/INTELLECT, Stefanelli Exhibition Space, New York

1997 Sex/Industry, Stefan Stux Gallery, New York

The Art Exchange Fair, with Stefan Stux Gallery, New York

Girls! Girls! Girls!, Tricia Collins’ Grand Salon, New York

1996 Set Off: Inaugural Group Show, View Room Exhibitions, New York

Underexposed: Nine Young American Painters, André Zarre Gallery, New York

Set Off: Inaugural Group Show, View Room Exhibitions, New York

Anatomy Intellect, Stefanelli Exhibition Space, New York

Featured Web Page Artist for December, Artists’ Space, New York

Night of 1000 Drawings, Artists’ Space, New York

1994 Juried Group Show, School of Visual Arts, FirstFloor Gallery, New York

1993 Young Ukrainian American Painters Group Show, Ukrainian Museum, New York

Work-Play: Picture Thinking and the Analogical Imagination, Visual Arts Gallery, New York

Group Show: Inka Essenhigh, Stephen Mumford and Leemour Pelli: Paintings, School of Visual Arts, Wooster Street Gallery, New York