Like the Old Masters that her work evokes, Julie Heffernan’s paintings give us a lot to look at, a wealth of sheer visual entertainment. Burnished with a pearly gloss concocted from a unique recipe of intelligence, fairy tale, art history and high fashion, each image engages us for a long time, and compels us to move closer, then further away , then closer again – as opposed to those paintings that we feel we know perfectly well, or well enough, from across the room.
P.P.O.W Gallery is delighted to announce Julie Heffernan’s forthcoming exhibition Booty accompanied by a full catalog with essay by Francine Prose.
Julie Heffernan’s new series of paintings continues to expand upon her use of the “Self Portrait” posing her prototypical figures center canvas while costumed in skirts of wild sport. As the paintings have further developed, her complex painted cosmologies have expanded to surround and engulf these females into a dreamlike narrative of` layered signs and symbols. Each one of Heffernan’s figures are heavily draped with the carcasses of animals, strung with rose-webbing, bejeweled with medals, and encircled by heads of state. As Heffernan’s frantic imagery heightens to a climax, each woman gazes at the viewer with serene calm.
The “Self-Portrait” is not only the woman centered in the picture plane but the entire canvas. Each of Heffernan’s paintings is compulsively constructed like that of a surreal automatic drawing, rendering a multiplicity of images like journal entries: the fruit canopies, knotted forests, ghostly wallpaper and vignettes encased in thought bubbles that float around the figure’s head. At the very least, her “self” extends to the canvas edge; at most, it cannot be contained. The amount of detail poured into each painting nearly overflows with life, and invites you in.
Like Julie Heffernan’s previous series, her paintings are a constant dilemma
of opposites between
- the gorgeous and grotesque, attraction and
repulsion. The series Booty amasses the spoils of war. It presents us with a
bounty of enormous amounts of both wealth and waste of resources, energy and
lives. Yet, the figure does not stoop under the weight of it all, but holds
herself upright among the surrounding foe, heavy ornaments and animal
corpses with the most extraordinary grace.
Julie Heffernan was born in 1956 and received her MFA from Yale University. She has had numerous one-person exhibitions around the country and has shown internationally. She has received a Lila Acheson Wallace award, NY Foundation for the Arts award, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright-Hayes Grant.