Esiri Erheriene-Essi‘s paintings drop in on time. They don’t give the exact date, but in a show of her works, you feel like a time-traveller and you are placed into a time of celebration and family, friends and memories of times that were both special but mundane. It could be a birthday party for a cousin, a weekend to the sea, or just friends gathered for a portrait. She paints a memory that is not identified but understood, a fact that she captures in calling her new show Rememory, on view now at Nino Mier in Los Angeles.
The UK-born and Amsterdam-based Nigerian painter starts her show with a quote: I was talking about time. It’s so hard for me to believe in it. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place—the picture of it—stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened. —Toni Morrison, Beloved, p. 88
As the gallery notes, “The exhibition is titled after a neologism coined in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and refers to crystallized, replayed images culled either from an individual’s memories, or from the collective consciousness of their community. ” The portraits she paints document the Black diaspora experiences of what appears to be the 1970s and 1980s, where she creates painting, xerox transfer, and collage through found photographs. It’s a stunning portrayal, personal and universal, documentarian and nearly fantastical. —Evan Pricco