previews

Nicole Eisenman, Beer Garden with Ulrike and Celeste, 2009, oil on canvas, 65 x 82".

Berkeley

Nicole Eisenman

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
2155 Center Street
May 3–July 14

Curated by Apsara DiQuinzio

Nicole Eisenman’s early work pictured a triumphant matriarchy doing ecstatic things together. In recent years, her protagonists have swung down from their heroic heights, post-Valhalla, to pursue the homelier stuff of life, and we find them in a bleaker mood at kitchen tables and in beer halls, eating, texting, napping, gazing, snogging, waiting for a drink. To her bag of tricks Eisenman has added a new motif: the close-up. She cuts to the big heads of various perplexed individuals in her Rabelaisian crowds, their faces confronting us with comic moods of befuddlement, anxiety, boredom, and distraction. This survey features more than forty of the artist’s paintings and prints made between 2009 and 2012. Eisenman shines her knowing, if dystopian, light on the way time passes here on earth, amid a populace of souls who are radically breaking apart and coming together, not only narratively but in the terms of drawing itself.