Chronicling forgotten narratives of the Black diaspora, Esiri Erheriene-Essi paints a more diverse representation of history
The Amsterdam-based painter uses her medium to “acknowledge just how fragmented and circumstantial history is”.
Full of depictions of everyday moments – from birthday parties, family meals to nights on the town – Esiri Erheriene-Essi’s colourful paintings are a joy to lay eyes upon. Created as a means of chronicling and championing Black experiences, Esiri cites her pieces as “exploring untold, often forgotten and even neglected narratives of people of the African diaspora.”
Esiri draws inspiration for her paintings from an archive of Black vernacular photography that she has personally created. The archive includes photos mainly from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s; Esiri tells us this is down to “photography becoming cheaper and readily available to a broader population, leading to a more diverse representation of histories being documented through photography”.
With their distinctive palette – both saturated and faded – Esiri sources inspiration from these photographs for her unique and varied use of colour. But, as Esiri explains, “this fascination with the colour is ironic (or perhaps rather sad) considering the racial bias inherent in the technology of colour photography, which was engineered for white skin only”. And so, Esiri’s bold use of colour is “a way to make up for what was denied”.
Esiri Erheriene-Essi: The Tourists (Copyright © Esiri Erheriene-Essi, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.