A California native, Mary Heilmann has been gazing out at the ocean since the age of three, and this fascination with the landscape and climate of her home state continues in her work to this day. Across Heilmann’s surfaces, waves swiftly build in one canvas before crashing over into the next. This notion sits at the center of Heilmann’s current show, Daydream, on view at 303 Gallery in New York.
Heilmann’s work here twists together natural landscapes and dense colorfields, all produced in her Bridgehamton studio. Continuing an engagement with the Long Island surf that connects her with the lineage of post-war artists who made their home on the tip of the island, Heilmann’s works perform careful conceptual operations. She incorporates a range of panoramas and incorporating undulating twigs to delineate the frothing lip of a cresting wave, glassy and luminous in translucent swathes of turquoise and teal. Elsewhere, two intersecting squares center on a foamy white and emerald spiral, or the cross section of a curling barrel as seen from the inside. In Red Break and Spill, splashes turn a brilliant scarlet, bursting forth as gauzy floods and blooming daubs of pigment. Pools of bright colors reappear throughout the exhibition, cropping up in small groupings like meandering thoughts or else punctuating the gallery walls as glossy, ceramic spots. Ever a master of suffusing the formal language of abstraction with glimmers of things seen, heard, and felt, Heilmann lends her works a sense of lyricism and animation.
The artist’s arrangement of furniture beckons viewers to settle in and immerse themselves within the exhibition. Comprised of a table inlaid with hand-made ceramic tiles and a smattering of chairs in natural wood and citrus hues, the arrangement provides a site for conversation and meditation, encouraging visitors to let their minds wander. For the artist, space and perception is inherently bound up in structure and method, and here takes that engagement to the point of a total environment, bridging wall-mounted pieces with functional objects to create a sense of a life and art lived beyond the canvas.
The show closes October 29th.
– D. Creahan
Mary Heilmann at 303 Gallery [Exhibition Site]