The Red-Haired Man at Good Weather, North Little Rock, AR (8/25-10/12, 2013)
Blue Notebook #10
There was a red-haired man who had no eyes or ears. Neither did he have any hair, so he was called red-haired theoretically. He couldn’t speak, since he didn’t have a mouth. Neither did he have a nose. He didn’t even have any arms or legs. He had no stomach and he had no back and he had no spine and he had no innards whatsoever. He had nothing at all! Therefore there’s no knowing whom we are even talking about. In fact it’s better that we don’t say any more about him.
- Daniil Kharms (1937)
Like Daniil Kharms’ poem, Ezra Tessler’s work hovers between the awkward and the comically abject. His paintings and constructions begin with a conventional figure and quickly devolve into incongruities after an extended process of erasure and reworking. They make explicit what we rarely acknowledge: two things that appear to be mutually exclusive can and do live side by side. Just as the red-haired man exists and does not exist, we may love and hate the same person, and so on. And while we recognize that our words can never do justice to the world around us, we try our best to describe and understand it. Thus, Tessler’s work in The Red-Haired Man seeks to unnerve even as it invites its viewers into a deeper conversation about what may or may not be true—or rather, what exists and does not exist at the very same time.