The first museum survey of Charline von Heyl, a painter whose vibrant, insistent, enigmatic work demonstrates that painting is still intensely relevant in contemporary art. Her paintings are not abstractions of objects or figures; instead, she is interested in creating a “new image that stands for itself as a fact.” With their dynamic energy, their contradictions and reversals, and their intentional confusion of foreground and background, these paintings require (and desire) careful looking—yet refuse to yield to the impulse to name, identify, and define. Tracing the development of von Heyl’s work over the last decade, the exhibition consists of 18 paintings exhibited alongside collage-based works on paper. Von Heyl’s works on paper combine drawing, painting, woodcut, silkscreen, and lithography, and are defined by a wild overflow of energy. These works are sometimes more conventionally legible than the paintings, their source images less transformed. Von Heyl’s drawings are sites of experimentation, extremely process-heavy, and composed through a playful method of trial and error.
Charline von Heyl premiered at ICA, then traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (March 21-July 8, 2012).