Jun 072024

“1 on 1 (2 Face a Covert Bully)”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen

“Larva Stage (Exposed to Linger)”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen

“Larva Stage (Exposed to Linger)”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen (detail)

“Routine Maintenance (Your Mouth Comes Second)”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen

“Cute Ones, Abducted”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen

“Cute Ones, Abducted”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen (detail)

Stefanie Heinze’s paintings at Petzel for MORTAR (the cute ones shouldn’t go unnoticed) have a lot of layers- both in paint and detail. What they mean may depend on your own interpretation. The poem below by Sophie Robinson or this interview with herself may provide some clues.

From the press release-

SWEET SWEET AGENCY by Sophie Robinson

the candy here is hard & filled & there is nothing i love more
than to be treasured. if nobody’s watching i just do nothing: lie down
don’t hardly breathe, keep my face in careful stillness not to crease
its cute forgettability. the world is full of edible munchkins & it is my life’s work
to work out how to stay creamy on the inside, how not to sour myself
up with little nips of this or that or otherwise cut holes in myself thru which
to be seen. i must learn to love what i cannot know: the wide bleached anus
on a porn blog, the insane demands of toddlers, the desire for moderation or
slimness of affection, the reasons lovers leave, the trash my cat brings back,
the crack of footsteps in the woods at night, why the killer kills.
i learn it all the hard way but fwiw
i would never snap the rabbit’s neck again
i would rewind i would keep it every time

Following the artist’s relocation from Berlin to New York this past year, Heinze’s newest suite of works investigates systems of knowledge and truth, challenging received notions of representation.

Heinze considers mortar as a site of genesis, the container of beginnings, from which raw materials are processed. Mortar can be the sound of aggression, bombardment, a foil or a threat. Mortar and pestle, a receptable for grinding ingredients, a cup for holding and crushing hard, like the grinding of teeth, or the moment infatuation becomes obsession, when yearning turns from tender to brutal. The paste which binds building blocks together, holding and distributing weight, sometimes decorative, composed of cement, water and sand. Paint is mortar, the built environment is mortar, the grind is mortar, decisions are sealed in mortar, and so is the longing for something even better and bigger and harder.

Heinze starts with small-scale drawings and collages, which are translated to large-scale tracings, undergoing several transformations as her canvases take shape. Rendering her surfaces over several months, layers of line and color are suspended in scenes at once frozen and in motion. Heinze works with a sense of suspicion, disputing the power of images. Her depictions are at times plush, like her floating, 🥹-bodied cherubs, or sharp and dense, like her reckless, airborne cinder blocks. Heinze’s pictures lend expanded, fragmented associations to her subjects, both stony and swaddled, heavy and buoyant. Heinze’s works negotiate categorization, neither pure figuration nor abstraction. Language hits a limit here, reaching for the means to describe–an enzyme, a digestif–where words fail. Heinze strives for a more empirical vocabulary, generating fields of sensation.

Interested in divination practices, ranging from tarot reading to online “spiritualist” influencing, the artist creates images motivated by imagined futures, drawing on both medieval and New Age “Youtubian” utopias. Influenced by the theory of the third hand in painting, the experience of transcendence which overtakes the artist at that critical point of flow state absorption, Heinze leans into this tradition of mysticism. Heinze allows the pieces to reveal themselves over time, creating kinetic, shifting pictures that trip expectation. Heinze builds tender worlds, in which instinct and environment coalesce in new impossibilities.

This exhibition closes 6/8/24.