Esiri Erheriene-Essi (b. 1982 in London, England) is a figurative painter of predominately mid to large-scale paintings concerned with history and society. She is captivated by history – in particular, images, objects, and documents which we can return to, in order to examine both individual and shared memories and histories.
A large part of her practice entails collecting and creating an archive, which could potentially become incorporated into her work. Archives are important to the artist as they create links and orders that she can question and play with – she searches for the discrepancies, the silences, in order to, through painting, create interruptions and assaults on the canonical historical narrative. With hindsight, bias and curiosity, she takes these discordances and brings them up to the surface. Erheriene-Essi continuously re-edits the narratives with the hope of robbing history of some of its tyrannical power by creating new scenarios. Or rather, she is incessantly attempting to imagine more humane and liberating narratives than what has gone before. In the process, she perhaps slightly changes our readings of history and thereby shows how we write the present.
In 2007 Erheriene-Essi attended the international residency program De Ateliers in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 2009 she won the prestigious Dutch Royal Painting prize. In 2014 she had her first museum solo exhibition at the Museum Arnhem, and in 2019 she was shortlisted for the Prix de Rome, The oldest and most generous prize for talented artists and architects in the Netherlands.
Erheriene-Essi is currently an artist tutor in the Painting and Printmaking department at the Royal Academy of Art – The Hague, the Netherlands. The artist lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.