Firstly I am ashamed to say I hadn’t really heard of Heilmann before this exhibition. I was bored and depressed from my visit to Hauser and Wirths other enormous Saville Row gallery, showing dull, formulaic paintings by not so YBA Michael Raedecker, so uninteresting, that the PV needed a huge brass band to distract from the images!
Walking into Heilmann’s show was a complete contrast and at first not a nice one, its full, there must be over a hundred painting, chairs and ceramic panels. Bright colours, odd angular shapes and busy patterns left me momentarily stunned. And slowly as I ventured further into the space, taking a seat to rest from the colourful assault, a smile crept onto my face. The exhibition is euphoric, I don’t think I would have looked twice at many of the pieces individually, yet as a whole they have an exciting energy. The exhibition's very obvious title is perfect, one is led through a completely mad series of landscapes, the natural free brushwork of ‘waves’, the man-made, severe and solid ‘roads’ and the insane primary and neon ‘visions’.
Usually such a negative word, quirky, here seems to work, Tetris like angular canvases jostle with blobby ceramic cartouches. Everything is very handmade. Heilmann is someone whose joy and excitement by making is obvious, and infectious. It makes you want to grab a brush and go wild. An almost art as therapy approach, again usually so negative, seems to work, visions of a mad artist who cannot eat, sleep or stop – a crazed need to create.
Walking around the exhibition is a full on experience, and I’m sure not to everyone’s taste, but getting over the initial onslaught leads one into a rewarding flow, as the eye is drawn to curious little patterns, odd materials and a thrilling storyline, emerging from the noise. An almost filmic backdrop of Americana starts to emerge, the long endless highways, untamed nature and a hippyish experimentation. An Easy Rider of small canvases jostling for attention.
I am so excited to have discovered Heilmann (embarrassed it took so long) and strongly advise a trip to the show on until the 5 April. And don’t be put off by initial reactions, have a sit down in one of her fabulously garish chairs- and wheel yourself around her world. You wont regret it!
23 February – 5 April 2012
Hauser & Wirth London,
Savile Row, South Gallery