New oil paintings by American artist Mary Heilmann will be on view at Hauser & Wirth London from 27 January until 28 February, 2004. This will be the second exhibition at Hauser & Wirth London’s new gallery space located at 196A Piccadilly.
In this exhibition of approximately twenty five works, Heilmann communicates her personal experiences through her compositions. However, not in the sense of a literal illustration, but as the eloquent abstraction of a moment in time. Heilmann’s paintings describe a personal world, but it is a world with which the viewer is familiar. This allows a dialogue to take place that extends far beyond the merely formal observation of a work of art: everyday events are hinted at, fragments of pop or high culture can be discerned, music, literature and film are cited. In other words, life in all its richness is expressed in these apparently simple, abstract compositions, in which, to quote Heilmann, “stories are told in songs – elliptically, poetically, in the form of allusions, hidden references or riddles to be solved.” Also included in the show will be a number of chairs designed by Heilmann, which should make the visitors experience more fluid and more comfortable.
Her abstract works, which she started in the 70's, have attracted a wide following in Europe since the artist participated in major exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna) and in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg in 1993/94. Her work has also been exhibited at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid in 1996. Additionally, Heilmann has had several large-scale solo exhibitions, including a show at the Camden Arts Centre in London in 2001 and the Secession in Vienna and The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, in 2003.
Born in 1940 and raised in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, Heilmann was first influenced by the surfing culture and Beat generation movements of the region. Heilmann first completed a degree in literature, before she studied ceramics at Berkeley. She was a part of a small group of students who studied with David Hockney who was a great influence and was instrumental in Heilmann changing practice from sculpture to painting after moving to New York in 1968. At that time artists were experimenting with the concept of dematerialisation and demanding that art should avoid any references to experience outside the work itself. Instead Heilmann opted for painting, rebelling against the accepted norm at the time. “Rather than following the decrees of modern, non-representational formalism, I started to understand that the essential decisions taken during the creative process were more and more related to content. The Modern movement was over...”