Simplicity involves unburdening one’s life. Errors, oversights, the language of critics. In defining a painting, one takes shots at defining the human experience. Failure, imperfection, hindrance. An honest painting is a reproduction of life, not a reproduction of art. Memory, object association, stories overheard or remembered or interpreted—often void of color or ostensible detail. 

The shift away from the perceptual, or the ability to interpret or become aware of something via the senses, is a modicum of insight into the 21st century experience. The twenty-four hour news cycle, the forty-hour work week, the filtered fifteen-second video. One is just as likely to witness footage from a plane crash on a pay-screen in the backseat of a taxi or on a muted television in a laundromat as they are to encounter an acquaintance in the street. And yet a distortion of reality does not take away from what is real. Perception is not malleable, even if reality is. 

The following collection of paintings were produced loosely, in a rapid manner, with very few materials. They represent development via the act of unburdening; adaption via restraint. Not a return, but a progression. A demonstration not in simplicity, but restriction. Their lack of color and ostensible detail leave one with the impression of an almost Eastern discipline. Pieces like The Clairvoyant (Blue Heron) and Buck Skinner exhibit an interrelation of shade and shape that seem to speak more to cognizance and memory than to image. And yet nothing is lost here. Rather, something veritable is gained through the artist’s demonstrable control. Comedy (Grandma’s Laughing Eskimo) & Tragedy (Grandma’s Crying Eskimo), more like found objects or abrupt memories, serve as an almost Proustian aide to remembrance or loss. The dreamlike quality of interpretation. The intimacy of subjectivity. 

As a whole, Stupid Man is a mingling of veiled emotions, representations and elusive, uneasy figures. Ennis’ subjects are an analysis of memory, experience. Representations not of subjects or forms or applied methods, but of sentiments. The impetuosity of youth. The obstruction of time. The burden of resolve.

New York, May 2016


Daniel Kine is the author of the novels Between Nowhere and Happiness (2009, Smallhand Press) and Up Nights (2013, Ooligan Press). He was born in Toledo, OH, in 1984, and studied philosophy and literature in San Francisco, Mexico City, Guatemala, and Portland, OR. His writing has appeared in several publications, including Modern ReviewQ PoetryPathways, and Indie Literature Now. Kine lives in Brooklyn, NY.

This essay was commissioned for the exhibition catalog accompanying Stupid Man and funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.