On view at Marianne Boesky Gallery | 507 West 24th Street, New York, NY
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Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present Echo in Color, Jay Heikes’ fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. With his upcoming show, Heikes continues his exploration of alchemical processes and the fleeting sense of connection that can be found when turning to nature and the universe. The exhibition will feature a selection of new and recent paintings from the artist’s Mother Sky series and Minor Planets sculptures. Echo in Color will be on view February 13 – March 13, 2021 at the gallery’s 507 West 24th Street in New York. On the occasion of this exhibition, the artist’s first comprehensive monograph will be published in cooperation with Gregory Miller & Co. and distributed by Distributed Art Publishers and will feature text by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Jenelle Porter, Philippe Vergne, and an interview between Heikes and Hamza Walker.
Heikes is regarded for his varied practice, wherein he combines and transforms an array of media and materials, including recent works that center around a preoccupation with the philosophical tradition of alchemy. The title of the exhibition, Echo in Color, references the perceptual phenomena of synesthesia, a blending of the senses in which the stimulation of one modality produces sensation in another. The assembled works in the exhibition evoke a similar awareness, crossing the senses in ways that are not understood through everyday language. Heikes’ preoccupation with these concepts speaks to his deep considerations of the role that art serves in culture. During a time of economic, social, and environmental turbulence, the artist creates a meditative response to this uncertainty.
“The sheer vastness of a wide-open space is imbued with feelings of emptiness – only in a cave or canyon can the gesture of a scream be returned,” said Heikes. “Through the last four years of alienation and the recent time collectively spent in isolation, I began to see the idea that in retreating to an imagined vastness, such as through a painting of the sky, the works become representations that keep us grounded and avoid the total void of the sublime.”
In particular, Heikes is interested in the juxtaposition of the painting and sculpture presented within Echo in Color. In his Mother Sky works, the artist stains the canvas using a combination of vinegar, salt, and powdered pigment. As they react, these substances generate unpredictable hues, ranging from rust, indigo, copper, and fluorescent greens. Screen printed and dabbed on the canvases are voluminous shapes of clouds and smoke, composed from distortions of found and photographed images. The euphoria in the otherworldly and meditative vistas simultaneously cause an underlying unease through the eerie and acidic tones of the tempestuous, burning skies that layer the canvas. The imagined atmospheres, at first an escapist opportunity for the viewer, reflect an inability to create complete control.
Presented alongside the paintings, Heikes will feature Minor Planets sculptures. This series of sculptures has been crafted from a range of materials, including concrete, pyrite, salt, slag, asphaltum, quartz, rope, and dust collected from the artist’s studio in the forms of modeled orbs and disks – timeless and ancient in appearance. The latest iteration of the Minor Planets on view in Echo in Color has transitioned to center on the material of concrete, giving the sculptures weight and autonomy in both their scale and composition. In this way, the juxtaposition of turning to the sky as a means of transcendence alongside the grounding materiality of the sculptures offers refuge in turbulent times. Yet even the Minor Planets serve as a testimony to the unpredictability of the artist’s chosen mediums and form, as the metals and complementary materials in the sculptures oxidize and mutate over time. In his 2019 text on this body of works, “I Wavereth,” Heikes notes, “At times it feels like I am playing God with these landscapes, imagining an atmosphere from above that has finally freed itself of all human trivialities. I was supposed to pick up the mantle of activism and help answer the people’s cries but instead I became more distant, even hidden, while creating these representational moods of the soul.”
Yale graduate and Minneapolis-based artist Jay Heikes (b. 1975) is known for his heterogeneous practice, which mixes and reinterprets a kaleidoscopic array of media—activating stories, puns, and irony in a cyclical meditation. His most recent body of work employs his preoccupation with the philosophical tradition of alchemy. Themes of evolution and regeneration, stasis and corrosion take form in his artistic actions, recharging Heikes' previous narrative pursuits and reaffirming the notion that mutation and change are essential to the creative process.
Following his first solo presentation at Artists Space, New York in 2003, Heikes participated in a number of group exhibitions at venues such as the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2003) and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (2002 and 2005). In 2006, Heikes was included in the Whitney Biennial: Day for Night,curated by Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne. Since then, Heikes has been the subject of numerous domestic and international exhibitions, including shows at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2007); the Aspen Art Museum (2012); Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam (2015); Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago (2015); Federica Schiavo Gallery, Rome (2019); and Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE (2019).