c. 2019 karyn mannix contemporary 516.318.0000

Eric Ernst

Eric Ernst was born in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1956 into a family of some notoriety in the art world. Originally intent on avoiding any direct involvement in the arts himself, he graduated from George Washington University with a B.A. in Japanese Studies followed by an all-but-completed M.A. in the same subject from the University of Michigan (to this day he insists the actual writing of the master’s thesis should just be considered a minor formality).

In between these academic respites, he lived in Japan working as an apprentice to a Japanese woodblock artist, studied Zen meditation, and was employed as a disc jockey at a Tokyo radio station under the pseudonym of “Reckless Eric, The Mad Artist of the Airwaves”. More importantly, his studies there were to later imbue his work with varied elements of Japanese and Oriental aesthetics in terms of coloration and concepts of rhythm and asymmetry in design.

Further incorporating aspects highlighting the geometric purity of the Russian avant-garde and the later Bauhaus artists, he was also influenced by his father, Jimmy Ernst’s, approach to crisp, linear compositional structure. In addition, the works are also inspired by aspects of harmony and movement drawn from disparate musical sources such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Igor Stravinsky, and Frank Zappa.

Structurally arranging the works to be viewed as small scale architectonic spaces, Ernst recently has begun incorporating elements of representational imagery into his constructions. These serve to create an interaction of forms, shapes, and colors that, mixed with musical and harmonic elements, conjure a more immediate narrative and strive to transcend the limits of pure geometric abstraction.