It is a great pleasure for Andersen’s Contemporary to present the German artist Thilo Heinzmann’s first solo exhibition in Denmark, an exhibition displaying both painting, paper work and sculpture.
Heinzmann’s artistic practice is characterized by the use of familiar materials, though materials unknown to painting. It is known that by avoiding traditional materials you can expand your proces and workflow and debunk the ‘traditional’ values of painting and the transmission of the same. To use low grade or poor materials is a relatively simple defense against these values, but Heinzmann’s materials are in the opposite end of the register. A listing of some of them may give an idea: feathers, papyrus, animal skins, marble lacquers, crystals and minerals, molten lead, molten tin, pure pigment, aluminum, epoxy, plexiglas, rabbit fur, badger fur, seashells, etc. Heinzmann is using distinctively multivalent materials replete with historical, metaphorical, poetic, and utilitarian values.
Heinzmann’s work is akin to German neo-formalist as Heimo Zobernig, Günther Förg and Imi Knoebel. The subtlety of their approach is easily lost beside the goulash of anti-Modernist groups such as the Neue Wilde, but Heinzmann’s comments on the anachronism of modernism are far more tactical, as it is evident in many of the exhibited works.
On display is a series of works titled Aicmo. It is aluminium boards that are pierced, torn or cut, as a pun on Lucio Fontana’s perforated works from the late 1950s. But where Fontana’s affiliations with the void were spiritual, Heinzmann’s method seems calculated: the holes here are carefully knocked through and disrupt only a small portion of the surface. The edges of the slit-like holes peel outwards as exit wounds indicating that the attack has come from behind. A sharp instrument was used, but there’s nothing crazy about it, no sense of destruction or violence. High degree of control is exercised to keep the hole size and depth within a narrow range.
The gallery’s main room shows five large sculptures made of transparent epoxy and pure pigments. They are all titled Heinze which may be translated into stack or rick - a special tripod for drying hay. The sculptures have obvious formal references to Duchamp’s readymade Bottle Dryer (1914/64), but their approx height corresponds with the scale of the human body and they therefore interact with the viewer in an entirely different way.
In this room is also displayed four wall-hung works of hessian. Plentifull fabric is carefully arranged in rectangles while straight lines of epoxy-resin line out a geometric pattern on top. Recalling Alberto Burri’s burlap-festooned canvasses, Jannis Kounellis’ coal-stuffed sacks or Joseph Beuys’ copious heaps of felt, it lacks the fearsome existential uncertainty of the post-World War II generation.
In the gallery’s smaller room is displayed four paintings made with oil and pure pigments on canvas, covered by a surface of Plexiglas. I keeping with Heinzmann’s practice they are cool, measured works; self-referential paintings about painting, that somehow manage to avoid parody and endgame scepticism, corralling vast amounts of art history that remains, for the most part, unseen. Here as in every other work it is evident, that Heinzmann works with an immense precision and with this achieves a precise and intense expression