Katrin Heichel: inside the G2


The good thing about collecting something is people always know what to buy you. The bad thing is running out of space. What if you collect paintings?

Steffen Hildebrand recalls asking his parents for a painting for graduation. That was his first. Nearly twenty years later, he ran out of wall space and was facing a dilemma: stop collecting, sell some of his collection, store some of the collection, or make more room for it? The first three were simply not options, so he bought a building.

This was the first time he started thinking about his collection and the responsibility it brings. Before that, he was just buying paintings when he liked them.

He still only buys what he likes, but now they are available for public viewing at G2.

The space is truly amazing and feels like something out of a Hollywood caper film. The architects have kept the original design of the building and have enhanced it to highlight the works in the collection. To see the Hildebrand Collection, you just schedule a tour in German or English. You’ll be met downstairs and taken in a key only operated elevator to the collection. It really does feel like you are going in a secret vault, and then you get there and it is the entire third floor.

Yes, it’s definitely worth seeing and, yes, it’s the finest collection of the New Leipzig School in town.

The permanent exhibition of the Hildebrand Collection includes artworks by Tilo Baumgärtel, Henriette Grahnert, Paule Hammer, Terry Haggerty, Uwe Kowski, Peter Krauskopf, Edgar Leciejewski, Rosa Loy, Neo Rauch, Daniel Richter, Christoph Ruckhäberle, Tomás Saraceno, Julia Schmidt, David Schnell, Kristina Schuldt, Koen van den Broek, Matthias Weischer and may other national and international artists.

Katrin Heichel NOCTURAMA catalog cover
Katrin Heichel NOCTURAMA catalog cover

There are times when the G2 is open to the public without scheduling a tour. Tonight is one of those times. There is an artist talk (in German) and NOCTURAMA catalog launch with Katrin Heichel and Clemens Meyer.

NOCTURAMA is one of the exhibitions curated by Anka Ziefer, who manages the Hildebrand Collection at G2. She felt it was important to show Katrin Heichel for several reasons. One was that she really stood out as being different from many of her contemporaries. Another was that she felt this was a good time to take a look at her progression as an artist. She has gathered works from several other collections for the first Katrin Heichel solo exhibition shown in an institution.

Katrin Heichel, Gehängter Rabe, 2006, oil & egg tempera on canvas, 18 x 15 cm / 7 x 6 in, Hildebrand Collection, Leipzig. Courtesy the artist © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016, photo: maeshelle west-davies
Katrin Heichel, Gehängter Rabe, 2006, oil & egg tempera on canvas, 18 x 15 cm / 7 x 6 in, Hildebrand Collection, Leipzig. Courtesy the artist © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016, photo: maeshelle west-davies

The first Katrin Heichel painting Hildebrand bought was the 2006 piece Gehängter Rabe (Hung Raven). From the very beginning, Katrin has used imagery to document her emotions. The early works feature classical representation. In 2012, she made a conscious decision to exclude the human image when she turned a self-portrait on its side, decapitated it and bound it.

In 2011, Katrin spent time in New York. This sparked a change in her work, or maybe she was already changing and New York gave her the freedom to explore it. The work became more 3-D, and leaps off the canvas.

In the pieces assembled for NOCTURAMA at G2, she explores blackness. She explores that phase when you are in a dark room for a while and your eyes start to adjust. Some things you can see, others remain shadowy. She also beautifully pays tribute to what we fear or see as ugly, as expressed in the layering of toads and the elevation of the thistle from lowly weed to centre of attention.

The name NOCTURAMA is not just a Nick Cave album, but also a project called Kerzer Nocturama in Switzerland, where visitors can see nocturnal animals and plants by the light of an artificial moon, where day becomes night. I encourage you to get close to these paintings and see how many shades of black there really are. Actually there is very little black at all.

Artist, curator and writer: maeshelle west-davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums.

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