Peter Heinemann: Bluebird
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April 8-May 10, 2008
Gallery Schlesinger & Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects present a one-person exhibition of paintings by Peter Heinemann, a legendary under-known New York figurative painter. Heinemann’s new paintings observe his three large cats on the prowl through home and garden. The cats made their first appearance in Heinemann’s last exhibition where they sympathized with the artist over the death of his son Mark. In these new paintings the artist and his wife recede and the cats take center stage. They pad through richly decorative monochrome surfaces amidst furniture, crockery, a cement chicken and cascades of flowers.
Heinemann’s work has evidenced a stubborn obsessive quality that allowed him to work on one painting, exclusively, for ten years. For thirty years Heinemann painted self-portraits. In the Bluebird paintings the self-portrait idea is extended to include the painter’s life and household. His 2003 exhibition presented one monumental painting, “Flamingo Heaven”, an idyll of figures cavorting under a flock of flamingos painted while the artist was undergoing radiation therapy. Throughout his oeuvre Heinemann’s paintings emerge from and mirror the facts of his life.
“Pink Tree And The Bluebird of Happiness,” a key work in this new series, depicts the artist’s garden as a brilliant cartoon-like Eden where sharp-toothed felines chase bluebirds, goldfinches hover about the feeder and the artist’s wife photographs a herd of deer. Two blue sneakers nudging the bottom of the frame are the only traces of the artist’s presence. The artist’s father was a Disney art director and a case can be made that Heinemann’s work carries on a conversation with popular culture as well as with the Northern European painterly tradition. It relates to children’s book illustration, underground comics and animated film as well as eccentric American modernists Florine Stettheimer and Arnold Friedman. The Bluebird paintings seduce us with lush color and the cats make us chuckle as players in the daily drama of life in the food chain.
Heinemann studied with Josef Albers at the legendary Black Mountain College. He has been teaching at SVA since 1960. This is his twelfth one-person exhibition at Gallery Schlesinger.
Dates: 8 April-10 May 2008
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11-5, Saturday 12-4
Reception: Tuesday, 8 April, 6-8