Review of the Anonymous series by the author of author of
The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us This Far,
Quintan Ana Wikswo
Esther Kirshenbaum's mixed media series ANONYMOUS is a visceral, evocative, and hauntingly narrative questioning of the role of the figure within site. Her use of encaustic and drawing on wood panels is simultaneously earthy and otherworldly - enigmatic beings gather at tangible places like doorstoops and sidewalks yet suggest that this act of being in our world is fraught with more complex existential concerns. Kirshenbaum's works inhabit the bittersweet familiarity of the built environment, yet invoke a questioning of the cosmic order of life. Are these sites and figures standing in witness, protest, or reproach to a searing decision? are they mourners, pilgrims, or visitors from another realm that perhaps sees more - and feels more - than is clear to those of use who share those streets and stoops.
There is an expansive, quiet, yet ferocious wisdom that pervades this series and demands of the viewer an unexpected silence, an internal questioning, and a moment to pause and consider - and reconsider - the purpose and meaning, or lack thereof, in our role on the planet. Yet the mood is also one of enchantment and a controlled emotionality - the sheer visceral beauty of her media and technique, her magnetic use of perspective and proportion, and her achingly synesthetic use of color forms an encounter with mystery, spirit, and what is unknown within the known.