Now through June 3rd, new work by Charline von Heyl will be on view at Capitain Petzel in Berlin, her second solo exhibition with the gallery. The German artist, who works with drawing, printmaking, and collage, has long drawn on this wealth of material in conjunction with a wide-ranging gestural vocabulary to create a densely layered body of works, shown here through a series of new canvases mixing various modes of illustration and painting.
The artist’s work functions not as a series of surfaces, but interlocking visual events, layering varied approaches towards repeating images or motifs which work in conjunction with her flowing brushstrokes and blurs of color. These colors and images shift depending on the time of day or the viewer’s perspective, their respective qualities marking a subtle environmental thread that balances against each work’s dynamic surface. Drawing is a significant part of the artist’s process, though any impression of line or form tends to hide beneath the unstable and heavy layers of charcoal powder, copper, aluminum flakes and dirty pastels.
The exhibition brings together a selection of recent works, creating a continued sense of agitation and stabilization, tension and dissolution. These works produce stark visual effects and striking contrasts rather that depict any single subject, the artist’s hand playing on the act of painting in conjunction with selected models and repeated themes running throughout her works. This mode of action allows von Heyl to play on a sense of poetic depth and humor, a visual interrogation of painting by the act of painting itself.
In Local Yokel from Outer Space (2014), for instance, a globular, alien-like face seems to smile from its vantage point inside the frame. Composed of brightly colored points and dark accents, the painting is at once inviting and menacing. Considered in different orientations, the abstract subject morphs between readings as an animal, organic object, and the otherworldly. In Samurai Rabbit (2017), by contrast, the figure of a rabbit stalks across the frame, holding what appears to be a samurai sword. The red-splattered canvas gives the impression of the exaggerated gore and violence encountered on-screen. Paired with the gentle symbol of a rabbit walking through a pastoral background, this painting balances the explicit and the abstract in an interesting combination of fine art and entertainment.
Charline von Heyl’s stimulating work is hosted in Capitain Petzel’s open and airy gallery space, giving the viewer ample room to consider these images from afar and up-close. The artist’s dynamic and provocative pieces come together to demonstrate the pleasure in experience what can happen to a painting under an active gaze.
Her work is on view through June 3rd.
— A. Corrigan
Exhibition Page [Capitain Petzel]