Home: It’s where we reside. It’s also where we’re from. It could also be where we feel at peace. In Katrin Heichel’s show, Heim. Ich gehe jetzt (“Home. I’m going now”), she explores the human need to make ourselves comfortable in our current state of residency, even if that is temporary.
This series is quite different from the work I saw at G2 in 2016. These paintings are brighter and more reflective. These works are not without perils, but they have a positivity that you feel the moment you enter Josef Filipp Gallery.
I got there a little early and had a chance to look around before Katrin got there. I found myself drawn to several paintings. One in particular felt like an old tree house. It was empty except for a wonderful couch. The couch was overstuffed and upholstered with a plush velour fabric adorned with a classic motif. It seemed out of place.
I liked the juxtaposition of the materials and the object within its setting. I liked the fact that it was not tattered. It looked new in the setting. Somehow it had remained intact. I contemplated how that could be. How could it have been transported without damaging it? This painting thoroughly intrigued me.
It was already my favorite in the series, and then Katrin told me more. This will be an evolutionary piece and will part of the MdbK collection. Every five years, she will paint a new painting on top of the previous one.
Katrin Heichel replaces the five year plan with the five year reality.
This painting used to be vertical. Five years ago, Katrin was inspired by being in New York on the six month International Studio and Curatorial Program. The painting featured telephone poles arranged in a pyre. At that time, she could see many opportunities, but couldn’t see a way to obtain them.
Now, the painting has been rotated. It is now horizontal. I can’t help but think about how the death of her mentor, Arno Rink, has affected her. She was a Master student of his.
Like many of her paintings, there are ladders in this one. At first, one is perplexed. Where are they leading? They seem to be from nowhere and lead to nowhere. They lean against nothing and, yet, stay vertical. Arno Rink, too, often used ladders in his paintings.
In Katrin’s painting, this group of ladders stands strong. The ladders represent the possibilities lying before her. They don’t define them, but they show that Arno Rink helped her develop the skills she needed to go in any direction she decides to. She needs no one to lean on.
When you compare the paintings, you notice that she kept some elements of the previous painting. Do we ever really have a clean slate in life? We always bring some element of the past.
Katrin has chosen to build upon the past instead of letting it define the present.
She will rotate and repaint the canvas every five years. This is living art. I am very curious to see how it develops. It takes history painting to a whole new level. It marries performance and painting. It is truly an exciting concept!
The piece (and the whole exhibit) shows how temporary life and its situations are. With the state of the world, we are seeing how the inability to be flexible is rocking our very foundation.
Her paintings express both loss of foundation and the ability to take what life brings and make the best of it.
Part of making the best of our surroundings goes back to a basic instinct to create shelter. As children, we build forts.
“Forts were both sanctuary and home base for our developing imaginations. We built them, we made the rules (including who could enter), and because of that we were the landlords and we were empowered. Forts also provided comfort – a calm place just for us in the midst of a sometimes chaotic world.” Katie Slivovsky, Exhibit Development Director at Chicago Children’s Museum
This new series of paintings reveals a desire to make a house a home through the use of decor. It is littered with lush fabrics and vivid colors.
Don’t be fooled. It’s not frivolous; it is deep. These are paintings you’ll want to live with. They are beautiful, make you think and give you a safe place for contemplation. I LOVE IT!
Cover shot: Detail – Katrin Heichel, Scheitern [Heim III] 2018, Oil on Canvas, 210x300cm. (Photo courtesy of Josef Filipp Gallery)
Katrin Heichel: Heim. Ich gehe jetzt.
8 September – 13 October 2018
Josef Filipp Gallery