In her new series of paintings, Julie Heffernan expands her complex painted cosmologies to landscapes of sensuous gardens and winding jungles.
Heaven and Hell marks a change in Heffernan’s paintings. In these new self-portraits, she has replaced her dominant central figure with corporeal cornucopia-like bushes, vines, and bouquets; all intertwined with multi-vignettes and visions. In the painting Self-Portrait with Holes in my Head, she wraps a lattice-like structure of intoxicatingly beautiful flowers stretching from the center to the periphery of the canvas. The central structure holds and hides lizards on the hunt and snakes wrapped through vines, vignettes of fiery war scenes, saints aglow with aura, and a cavern revealing an orgy scene resembling Ingres’ Turkish Bath. Each one of these scenes expands upon the painting as being a ‘self-portrait’. The accumulated vignettes act like entries in a journal, telling and retelling dreamlike narratives through her own symbolism. Heffernan’s feminine miasma echoes that of surrealists like Leonora Carrington, creating new histories and narratives through her own personal ingrained iconographies.
Heffernan was born in 1956 and received her MFA from Yale University. She has had numerous one-person exhibitions around the country, including a traveling exhibition, Everything that Rises, that will open at the Weatherspoon Museum of Art in February. She has received a Lila Acheson Wallace award, a NY Foundation for the Arts award, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright-Hayes Grant.