It’s August 2021 and painter Angela Heisch and I are sitting in her Bedstuy studio drinking cans of La Croix. It’s late afternoon and the air is sticky, that sort of late summer air that wraps itself around your skin like a weighted blanket and does not let go till September. As we talk, beams of late-in-the-day light shine with intensity from her massive windows onto stacked canvases. We begin to discuss change and what that means for her, both as an artist and as a person. The points of conflict, transition and reflection we all encounter and how we sit with those moments and try to better understand them.
Contradiction is at the center of Angela Heisch’s newest body of work. Expanding on familiar territories of series past, the paintings for her recent solo exhibition, Burgeon and Remain, at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery revel in their polarity. Pools of color stop short at dissecting planes and are brought to a halt at the edges of her canvases. Akin to watching a vine grow, Heisch’s forms adapt to their environment, take advantage of their spatial advantages, and are left to ripen, curl and contort where need be. Bulging, organic forms expand and buckle at the edge while swells of vibrant color boom with intensity, and in an instant, return to calm. Ripe with movement and fluidity, Heisch’s process has entered more improvisational territory – she states, “I was coming from this place that was very controlled and based on the abstract language of architecture, or rather architectural systems.” Fast forward to this most recent body of work, Heisch’s painterly style has loosened its grip, creating generous space for play and improvisation. “It's about achieving balance, not just visually, but more through a sense of heart, as in harmony and balance,” Heisch continues;“I’m more interested in these forms or abstract spaces achieving resolution and I think for me it’s like scratching some itch.”
To capture a representational image is one thing but to encapsulate an idea is entirely another. Heisch’s paintings do just that and more, acting as vessels for all sorts of emotional and psychological states, leaving viewers to their own associative devices. “This work felt kind of like this invitation, they sort of look like stages, or like places you can step into.” With that in mind, we can interpret at will, allowing for our own conversations and connections to emerge. According to Heisch, “these paintings are supposed to be mirrors, a reflection of you and your experiences and where you're coming from and how you're feeling that day.” In her series for Burgeon and Remain, Heisch’s sensorial paintings explore that stillness as a point of meditation and consider the succinct moment in which things slow to a halt, when everything is at its fullest and then promptly turns towards decay. That sense of arrival, or nearing the end is central in Heisch’s work, not only as a tool of her own self-reflection but as a way to understand the transitional nature of change. As the summer slows and the ginkgos shed their seed pods all over the streets of Brooklyn, we’re reminded of a familiar pattern – a pause, a space for contemplation and growth, to return again with force and vigor, to sprout and bloom in due time.