Saturday, May 8, 2010

Julie Heffernan at P.P.O.W, until June 5, New York

Julie Heffernan is one of my favourite artists and her latest exhibition Boy, O Boy is currently on at P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Great Scout Leader III 2010, oil on canvas, 72 x 54 inches

Press release for the exhibition, courtesy of P.P.O.W
P·P·O·W is pleased to announce Boy, O Boy, our sixth solo exhibition of paintings by Julie Heffernan. Using the male figure for the first time, Heffernan's new works explore the idea of human progress on both personal and political levels. The figures are an homage to transition and the passing on of wisdom from one generation to the next. The space of the canvas meditates on how we move into new chapters of our lives, both personally and as a planet.

In Great Scout Leader III, there is a young boy carrying an overly large backpack filled with golden creatures, stamps and paintings amongst many other special items to help him on his journey. He is wearing a belt equipped with tools (books, apples, and ropes) which may be useful during his passage. He is partially holding up a world that he is about to enter, but this soon to be discovered world is not altogether sound, for there is an avalanche below. In other works such as Budding Boy and Boy in Flight there are boys high up in trees, each creating miniature ecosystems and managing their environments, even as they appear to unravel. Heffernan gives us endearing and fragile images of a new masculinity that signal her faith in a potential yet threatened future world.

Boy in Flight 2010, oil on canvas, 52 x 68 inches

In addition to the paintings of adventurous boys, there are multiple landscape paintings that imagine what alternative worlds would be like if the one we are familiar with vanishes. Self Portrait Moving Out envisions a place where pathways lead to disaster or, conversely, miniature Edens. Self Portrait Setting Up Camp is a proposition for how we might remake the world when it all falls apart. Personal amulets are revealed throughout Heffernan's paintings in the form of tiny images of faces, art treasures and vignettes which reflect history, wisdom and truths.

Self Portrait as Tree House 2010, oil on canvas, 68 x 65 inches

All of these works remark on the nature of human society, the cycles of life and the possibilities of renewal alongside the entrapments of compliance and stasis. Like Heffernan's women, her new characters carry heavy histories of the past as they try to valiantly reshape the future.

Self Portrait as Big World 2008, oil on canvas, 65 x 68 inches

Julie Heffernan was born in 1956 and received her MFA from Yale University. She has had numerous one-person exhibitions around the country and has shown internationally. She has received a Lila Acheson Wallace award, NY Foundation for the Arts award, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright-Hayes Grant. She is the program head of the BFA in Studio art Montclair State University.

Tender Trapper 2010, oil on canvas, 66 x 60 inches

Gallery installation courtesy of Julie Heffernan & P.P.O.W

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