Marisa Newman Projects is pleased to present Khatia Esartia’s Ich habe meinen Regenschirm vergessen (I have forgotten my umbrella). The exhibition title refers to a note found isolated in quotation marks among Friedrich Nietzsche’s unpublished manuscript Nachlass. While different interpretations have been put forward to explain the oddly placed sentence, most scholars prefer Jacques Derrida’s idea that Nietzsche's inscription is open to any number of meanings. The title of Esartia's show is thus at once, a misdirection, a ploy to bait the viewers into searching for the one element that should be missing in the presented works, and an affirmation that all works can be open to more than one reading. Each of the paintings in the exhibition addresses the possible meanings behind Nietzsche’s note, using humorous settings and absurd landscapes to reflect on the human condition. In Descend, a fantastical battle of sorts takes place on a 10-foot-tall work on wallpaper. The painting's protagonist is a small child, who finds herself throughout the exhibition thrust into bizarre situations - in Descend she appears to be attempting to fly. This attempt to connect in spirit with a bird-like creature who has the ability to fly is so desperate that it reads as comical. Having forgotten her umbrella, which can signify safety and shelter from metaphorical trouble, the child finds herself in trouble. Here the missing umbrella can be interpreted as a symbol of danger.
Ich habe meinen Regenschirm vergessen features a monumental wallpaper painting installation, gouache works on panel, and a suite of watercolor works on vellum. Esartia’s practice draws from the artist’s watercolor study with Afrikaans artist Rika Van der Walt. Watercolor has played a significant role in the development of modern art. Both Van Gogh and Cézanne praised it for its expressive space and airiness, yet it has stayed in the shadows of other media. Perhaps one of the more challenging materials to control, watercolor’s unforgiving nature and the inherent physicality that is created by its tendency to dry very quickly have been strong influences in the artist’s practice. In Descend the use of the natural color of the wallpaper and seemingly free-flowing paint that is controlled by the artist’s brush create harmonious movement and light in an unnatural landscape --with or without the umbrella.
Khatia Esartia (b.1978) works and lives in New York. She received her MA from Christie’s Education and BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.