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    David Ebony's Top Ten

Inka Essenhigh at Mary Boone
 
     
 
Sunspots
2000
 
Goody
1999
 
Miraculously, Inka Essenhigh seems to have managed to avoid being devoured by all the hype surrounding her current art-world -- and art market -- status as "flavor of the month." Instead, the Pennsylvania-born New York artist has focused on painting. The excellent results are evident in this display of five large recent canvases. These meticulous abstractions feature the high-gloss surfaces and brilliantly colorful scenes of transmogrifying mayhem that gained her much attention in the past couple of years.

Works on view such as Goody and Reconstruction are among the most resplendent of her career. The former is a kind of crazy farm scene in which corn cobs and goblins fight for control of the picture plane. The activity in Reconstruction is quite obscure, but it certainly has more to do with genetic reconstruction than with architecture. A gorgeous composition with a turquoise background traversed by a jarring whoosh of deep red, the image centers on a hospital's operating table on which surgery seems to be taking place. Toward the right, a wildly distorted figure may be seen on what appears to be a fast-moving gurney. Each of the paintings conveys a sense of high-speed human and mechanical movement. In Sunspots, humans free themselves from bondage as demonic motorcyclists race down infinite highways.

Essenhigh proves in this show that her work is no mere flash in the pan. Forces to be reckoned with, these slick and sumptuous paintings are here to stay.

Inka Essenhigh, May 5-June 24, at Mary Boone Gallery, 745 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10151.

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