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Nicole Eisenman's exhibitions have taken the shape of installations of paintings, drawings, collages, assemblages, found objects and murals. Piles and spills, wall-bound works on paper and canvas, and things hanging from ceilings are there to make her subject matter and form enjoyable to the viewer. Her installations seem to be transported from the room of a very talented teenager whose moods shift effortlessly from nice to nasty.

Her drawing style is reminiscent of the WPA and artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Reginald Mangold and Paul Cadmus, but hers is a complexity that belies its accessibility. Between pieces like "New Braces" and "Slow Death" there is a chasm of emotion from the pain of being looked at as being different to the fantasy of destroying the ones who would make our lives difficult.

These pieces are lampoons of autobiographical situations. Real life mixes with pop culture, then turns to fantasy as in "Alice in Wonderland," where Lewis Carrol's young Alice stumbles onto DC Comics' Wonder Woman (Linda Carter style) and hilariously goes where no man (Super or not) has gone before.

Eisenman uses humor in a way that sets her apart from many of her contemporaries who are involved in a political kind of art based on a feminist, lesbian identity. With a flair for drawing that is as easy to read as a Saturday Evening Post illustration, she lures you in, then stops you in your tracks with content that might not be so funny.

Like the woman in "Cowgirls" Eisenman is smiling and marking her territory, pissing on everything in her path and making it her own. She is claiming her piece of our culture and marking it a safe space for her and her friends. In "Logger House" a group of butch women gather to cut up a man.

Not even art history is safe from her wit as in "Dürer Portrait of Man with Bra." In this work Eisenman humorously gives us an example of how men might save themselves from women's fury in the new millennium.

Arnold J. Kemp
"New Braces," 1996
ink on paper
16 x 15 inches
"Slow Death," 1996
ink on gessoed paper
45 x 53 inches


"Alice in Wonderland," 1996
ink on paper
30 x 22.5 inches
"Cowgirls," 1996
ink on paper
34 x 28 inches
"Logger House," 1996
ink on gessoed paper
21.5 x 30 inches
"Dürer; Portrait of Man with Bra," 1996
ink on paper
19 x 11.5 inches
All images courtesy:
Jack Tilton Gallery, NY

Other artists in "Heavy Petting"