Esiri Erheriene-Essi

United Kingdom

Born in England, Esiri Erheriene-Essi is a painter based in Amsterdam. She mainly creates large-scale paintings, with a focus on the subjects of history and society, and the way old images from can be a way of exploring and analyzing people and places from the past. Whether using old family photographs to learn about her own history and identity, or interning at picture desks for magazines and newspapers, images have always been a prevalent figure in her life. Today, she bases each of her mixed media paintings on old photographs that depict everyday scenes from the lives of Black families in the 1950s and 60s, showing them in vibrant technicolor where the old film cartridges of the time failed to do so. In 2009, she won the prestigious Dutch Royal Painting prize, and in 2014, she had her first museum solo exhibition at the Museum Arnhem, before being shortlisted for the Prix de Rome in 2019. The oldest and most generous prize for talented artists and architects in the Netherlands.

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History is not just something from the past. It’s in all of us, it’s in our names and our language and the way we look at things, in the way we look at the world and understand it.