E.E. Ikeler makes work that uses painting as a technology to develop a particular type of knowledge. The paintings are gridded, patterned, textual, and textural compositions that demonstrate the plasticity inherent to both abstraction and language. Ikeler is "chasing the feeling of understanding" rather than purporting to reveal objective truths. Their paintings remind us at a critical point in history that words, like paintings, are slippery and communal.
In FEEL we see four thin yellow letters staggered on a gray background to spell out “feel." The letters are obscured behind a faintly gradiated grid. It is at once a command towards mindfulness and a metaphor for the difficulty of doing so. How simply perceiving and naming a feeling can seem impossible amid the myriad anxieties of late capitalist living.
LET HER RIP undulates with concentric lines of deep blues and jewel-tones, all built around faint gridded letters in the background spelling out the American idiom “let her rip." Uttered mostly among middle aged dads and Nascar enthusiasts, the phrase came from the mid-19th century and is defined as "an invitation to act without restraint or to pursue a reckless course." The text itself fades into the background like an idiom fading into the background of culture. But taken more literally it becomes an emphatic call towards violence against women.
IT IS WHAT IT IS is a gridded cream and cerulean composition that repeats the phrase "it is what it is," which doubles as both a meaningless idiom and a profound ontological statement. In this piece Ikeler has moved from an enamel painted grid to a literal net that has been inlaid on the panel. They wrote to me that the net opened some new possibilities. "I can stretch and warp the grid a lot more. This is really valuable because the problem with making grid paintings is it's hard to get any movement- everything is so frontal." Ikeler uses this shared perceptual experience to help build intersubjectivity- a necessary part of building a better future.
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