Lost and Found in Space: Part 1
The stretched canvas is a paradox, delineating the expansiveness of boundless space. Its edges circumscribe an imaginative frontier. It intensifies the illusion of infinitude by marking it off, by framing and containing it. Once and for all, it fixes the evanescent.
The artificially, arbitrarily enclosed expanse of space as a microcosm of experience is analogous to the garden, the corral, the kitchen, the petri dish, the snow globe, standup comedy, lunar modules, novels, and pictures.
Painters feel their way forward into charged but uncharted pictorial space. Or they just barge right in, unannounced. The first thing the viewer notices about Kylie Heidenheimer’s work is how carefully considered her decisions are. Each brush stroke, splash, drip or puddle—even those that seem spontaneous—are survivors of the artist’s editorial eye. Every feature of her paintings has to earn its pictorial worth. A brush is the ideal tool to facilitate access to the space of the painting's support, transporting and releasing pigment with a minimum of biomechanical effort and reducing the lag time between the impulse and its expression. For a few years, Heidenheimer forsook the brush for other means.
In paintings such as Glade and Solid As Ether she obviates her touch by means of sponges, pools and pours, courting the chance occurrence, the happy accident. Drips sit aloft, nuggets of color adrift on washing waves. Surfers talk about “the green room,” that static, organic space within the cresting wave’s onrushing tube. Painters know a certain clotted crawl space, similarly exhilarating to attempt and monumentally indifferent to individual failure. Confronting that tradition has been a vital chapter in Heidenheimer’s search for a distinctive and dramatic choreography of surface and trace.
In essence, painting transforms goop-—whether pigmented oil, tinted acrylic polymer, or some other malleable substance possessing evocative chroma, that will adhere for a substantial period of time to a vertical surface—into pictorial experience. The only other prerequisite is the viewer’s willingness to allow that, in certain circumstances and in the right hands, that goop can get to something grand, can reward scrutiny by engaging the eye and transporting the imagination. This exquisite anomaly underlies Heidenheimer’s simultaneously concrete and ephemeral paintings. The self-evident materials don’t quickly translate into pictorial meaning but cling to the meaning of their materiality. Irrefutably present, they somehow contain the psychic weight of absence, make the painting look as if something is going on outside its frame or underneath its skin that informs its appearance, but the exact nature of which remains unknown.
image: Solid as Ether, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48" x 1", 2008