Eichenberg’s new series of work, presented under the intriguingly annoying title ”X,” at first sight appears to continue the artist’s persistent fascination with the face, the human face, and to inscribe itself in the traditional genre of “portrait painting.” Rather than suggesting the possibility of faces emerging, appearing, presenting themselves to the viewer, as they did in earlier series of Eichenberg’s work--in the two-dimensional forms of mirrors, silver ovals, porcelain medallions--these three-dimensional objects show us human heads in the process of their own disappearance; their features seem to be fading away. Clearly recognizable as heads, some of these objects are made of wood covered in steel nails, hermetically hammered into their surface so that the underlying base has become invisible. Others are made of unglazed white porcelain, with faint facial features pressed into their rough surface by an obviously powerful, relentless thumb. Yet others--robust black leather bulbous shapes that evoke the feel and force of boxing gloves--owe their recognizability as heads largely to the context in which they appear: a multitude of head-shaped objects, sometimes coupled, sometimes solo, that impress themselves on us in their ineradicable, almost violent presence, in their singularity, distinctness, and materiality. At the same time, and, ineluctably, their fading features and sealed-off surfaces also eerily confront us with the inscrutability, the opaqueness, and the evanescence of any “portrait”--whether two-or three-dimensional.
renée c. hoogland