NYC Exhibitions: Kenny Scharf, Travis Louie and Inka Essenhigh

November 6, 2014

Current SVA faculty and alumni exhibitions in New York City feature politicized paper heads, abnormal characters and ethereal landscapes.

Pop artist Kenny Scharf‘s (BFA 1981 Fine Arts) signature surrealism returns in “Kenny Scharf,” a collection of new three-dimensional paper sculptures. Scharf’s handcrafted paper heads with luminous smiles and arresting eyes pop out of paintings and suspend from the ceiling in his latest exhibition. While the faces appear playful, serious politicized themes lie beneath their surfaces; layers of advertisements and newspaper clippings sourced from the artist’s 30-year collection serve as 2D backdrops for the visages. On view at Pace Prints, 521 West 26th Street, through November 8.

scharf425BFA Illustration faculty member Travis Louie‘s “Strange Visitors” is a collection of liquid graphite, oil and acrylic Old World–style portraiture featuring individuals marked by abnormality. Formalistic portraits of goblins, fairies and suited rabbits have companion narratives of social isolation and humorous misunderstanding. In “Mr. Sam,” a man adorned with a sunflower on his head smiles widely revealing razor sharp teeth. Sam’s bio reveals that the flower should set fearful neighbors at ease. Normalizing eccentricity, “Strange Visitors” prompts audiences to look beyond mere physical characteristics to get the full story. On view at AFA of SoHo, 54 Greene Street, through November 11.

Jacob Lewis Gallery’s inaugural exhibition features recent works from Inka Essenhigh (MFA 1994 Fine Arts) entitled  “Comet Dust & Crystal Shards,” ethereal paintings on paper partially inspired by the landscape surrounding the artist’s summer studio in rural Maine. Multilayered waterscapes, bright comets and skyscraping architecture provide a rich foundation for Essenhigh’s world of regeneration and transformation. Fantasy and figuration combine in the form of humanoid spirits and twisted foliage. On view at Jacob Lewis Gallery, 521 West 26th Street, 4th floor, through November 15.

Image: Part of the “Kenny Scharf” exhibition at Pace Prints.

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