If painting is a language Kati Heck speaks it in all dialects. The 20th century saw painting analyzed and deconstructed until we declared it dead. In her intuitive manner, Heck revives painting into a new form, creating a universe that captivates us. Heck is to be considered an heiress to German Expressionism. One is reminded of the bars, dancers and actors of Otto Dix and George Grosz at the same time as the Old Masters. Heck synthesizes and fuses styles. She’s both an Abstract Expressionist as a Realist.
Parts of her paintings are meticulously rendered on her stitched canvases, with a unique virtuosity and acute attention to detail, while others look streaked, smeared and sculpted. You can find reflections of Robert Rauschenberg, the way she combines non-traditional materials and everyday objects in innovative combinations. She challenges the medium of paint on a completely new level, as a gesture toward unabashed self-assertion and its radical effects. As the artist states, „I always opt to use more paint, it helps me move away from realism and towards total freedom.“
Heck’s paintings often resemble collages, because she tends to combine different styles of painting on one and the same canvas. With Heck, hyperrealistic images blend in seamlessly with cartoonish sketches or stylistic references to the history of art. With references to comic books, films and pornography, Heck is clearly inspired by popular culture, but her own experiences are a point of reference for her as well – the figures she depicts are usually modelled after people she met in her own life. Heck doesn’t want the stories of her images to be understood at once; most important is the imaginative power of the paintings.
Opening Image: Courtesy of the Gallery
Kati Heck All my Friends are Wild 23 May – 6 July
Tim Van Laere Gallery , Jos Smolderenstraat 50, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium