Spotlight: Artist Alex Heilbron’s Intensely Ornamented New Paintings Play on the Ways the Human Brain Processes Patterns

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What You Need to Know: On view from September 9 through October 28, 2023, Meliksetian Briggs in Dallas, Texas, is presenting an exhibition of recent work by Alex Heilbron—the artist’s second solo with the gallery. Titled “Apophenic,” the name of the show is in reference to apophenia, an early symptom of schizophrenia wherein the individual becomes prone to perceiving connections or patterns between random, unrelated things. Focusing on ideas around meaning and the sources of meaning, Heilbron draws on the idea of everyday life and the inherent patterns within, which she makes literal in her compositions. The backdrop of life translated through artistic means thus becomes the painting’s subject itself.

About the Artist: Originally from San Rafael, California, Alex Heilbron (b. 1987) obtained her B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2009 and studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany from 2014 to 2017. In 2020, she received her M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Heilbron has received several prestigious scholarships and awards, including most recently a Helen Frankethaler Scholarship (2019–20) and Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2023–24). Last year, in 2022, Heilbron’s work was included in the major group exhibition “Women Painting Women” at the Modern, Fort Worth, Texas, curated by Andrea Karnes. Heilbron’s paintings are recognized for their distinct visual style that defies easy categorization. Most frequently completed in acrylic on canvas, her composition choices and execution often evoke a computer-generated sensibility or a product of collage. Through this approach, Heilbron can engage more deeply with the core themes surrounding place, perception, and reality.

According to the Gallery: “As an index of history, Heilbron’s paintings continue to evoke a nebulous territory through freely modifying stylistic motifs from past eras in pallets and graphic styles conceived in present time. Take for instance the four-pointed flower featured in each painting in the show: its origin is alternately Medieval and mid-century, or even reminiscent of digital graphic design from the 1990s or early 2000s. Evading the depths of the past, Heilbron’s paintings evoke an ahistorical plane of simultaneity. As in the psychoanalytic description of schizophrenia, a foreground-background confusion produces a subject without an unconscious—pure surface is a genre of madness.”

See featured works from the exhibition below.

Alex Heilbron, (2023). Courtesy of Meliksetian Briggs, Los Angeles/Dallas.

Alex Heilbron, (2023). Courtesy of Meliksetian Briggs, Los Angeles/Dallas.

Alex Heilbron, (2023). Courtesy of Meliksetian Briggs, Los Angeles/Dallas.

Alex Heilbron, (2023). Courtesy of Meliksetian Briggs, Los Angeles/Dallas.

Alex Heilbron, (2023). Courtesy of Meliksetian Briggs, Los Angeles/Dallas.

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