Charline von Heyl @ Petzel Gallery

Artist, Debra Ramsay takes a closer look.

Detail of work (on left) from photo above.

From the Press Release:

Petzel Gallery is delighted to announce the inauguration of our new uptown location with an exhibition of early paintings by Charline von Heyl. The group of paintings assembled was previously exhibited in Cologne and Munich between 1991 and 1995, before the artist moved to New York. This will be the first showing of the work in the United States. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with an interview between Isabelle Graw and the artist.

Cologne in the late 1980s was dominated by a debate about the merits and pitfalls of painting. If there was any point of agreement, it was in rejection of the mythic landscapes of Anselm Kiefer and the gestural marks of the internationally acclaimed neo-expressionists. However esoteric the arguments about painting may seem today, they helped clarify a skeptical position on painterly authenticity that was adopted by artists such as Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen, friends and colleagues of von Heyl.

After studying with Joerg Immendorff in Hamburg, Charline von Heyl moved to Düsseldorf in the early 90s and worked for his studio. Düsseldorf’s geographic location gave the artist enough critical distance to ferment her own ideas away from the quagmire of the Cologne art scene. She began exhibiting her work in 1990, at Christian Nagel Galerie in Cologne. At the time, the gallery’s focus was on conceptual and contextual art. Von Heyl was its only unabashed painter. Her insistence provoked a dynamic and confrontational new dialog about painting in general and her work in particular, apart from the already established painting positions reigning in the Cologne of the eighties.

The paintings for von Heyl’s exhibition at Petzel were selected in light of her most recent show at the gallery in September of 2013. The early canvases can give an insight to her current works. In particular, von Heyl has never distinguished abstract from representational form, rather, she has used all the visual tools at her disposal to lure the viewer into her compositions. The early paintings juxtapose textured fields of color with emblems that have the ability to allude to skin tone, nature, and industrial elements, among other motifs. Now and then her paintings function like a visual oxymoron: funny but not humorous, fluidly painted yet collaged, both experimental and expertly composed. Von Heyl treads into the unfamiliar, finding a place beyond language, discourse and argument that can only be articulated in painting.

Painter James Erikson takes in von Heyl's work from the early 90s.

Installation view.

Charline von Heyl: Düsseldorf Paintings from the Early 90s

Through May 2, 2015

Petzel Gallery
35 E 67th Street
New York, NY 10065


Ravenna Taylor said…
Great to see these, thanks -- I'm looking forward to seeing in person. What did you think?
Paul Behnke said…
The more time I spent and the closer I got to them the more I liked them.