press release

venue: Petzel 67th Street

Petzel Gallery is delighted to announce the inauguration of our new uptown location with an exhibition of early paintings by Charline von Heyl. The group of paintings assembled was previously exhibited in Cologne and Munich between 1991 and 1995, before the artist moved to New York. This will be the first showing of the work in the United States. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with an interview between Isabelle Graw and the artist.

Cologne in the late 1980s was dominated by a debate about the merits and pitfalls of painting. If there was any point of agreement, it was in rejection of the mythic landscapes of Anselm Kiefer and the gestural marks of the internationally acclaimed neo-expressionists. However esoteric the arguments about painting may seem today, they helped clarify a skeptical position on painterly authenticity that was adopted by artists such as Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen, friends and colleagues of von Heyl.

After studying with Joerg Immendorff in Hamburg, Charline von Heyl moved to Düsseldorf in the early 90s and worked for his studio. Düsseldorf’s geographic location gave the artist enough critical distance to ferment her own ideas away from the quagmire of the Cologne art scene. She began exhibiting her work in 1990, at Christian Nagel Galerie in Cologne. At the time, the gallery’s focus was on conceptual and contextual art. Von Heyl was its only unabashed painter. Her insistence provoked a dynamic and confrontational new dialog about painting in general and her work in particular, apart from the already established painting positions reigning in the Cologne of the eighties.

The paintings for von Heyl’s exhibition at Petzel were selected in light of her most recent show at the gallery in September of 2013. The early canvases can give an insight to her current works. In particular, von Heyl has never distinguished abstract from representational form, rather, she has used all the visual tools at her disposal to lure the viewer into her compositions. The early paintings juxtapose textured fields of color with emblems that have the ability to allude to skin tone, nature, and industrial elements, among other motifs. Now and then her paintings function like a visual oxymoron: funny but not humorous, fluidly painted yet collaged, both experimental and expertly composed. Von Heyl treads into the unfamiliar, finding a place beyond language, discourse and argument that can only be articulated in painting.

The current exhibition exemplifies that an artist's oeuvre is not a linear evolution with an exponential succession of accomplishments. Rather, von Heyl’s work has an elliptical and mercurial nature. The pictures from the past form a tight bond to her latest work.

Charline von Heyl was born in 1960 in Germany, she lives and works in New York and Marfa, Texas. Her work has been exhibited both in the United States and abroad, including solo exhibitions at The Tate, Liverpool; Kunsthalle Nurnberg, Nurnberg; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; ICA Philadelphia; ICA Boston; Westlondonprojects, London; Le Consortium, Dijon; the Dallas Museum of Art and in the Vienna Secession. Von Heyl's works reside in the collections of the Tate, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; among many others.