Charline von Heyl
456 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011
September 6 - October 20, 2018
2’10” (two minutes, ten seconds)
Before uttering a word of his introductory remarks for the June 2018 opening of Charline von Heyl’s Snake Eyes exhibition at the Deichtorhallen (Hamburg), John Corbett, the Chicago gallerist and music champion nonpareil, lifted his smartphone to the mic and played a 2’10” free jazz piece by the Norwegian trio Moskus (Musk Ox). The piece was Fjesing (Emoticon) from their album Mestertyven (Master Thief). Corbett’s intent was to get the audience’s attention and to just, simply, make them take the time to focus on what they were hearing, experiencing. It was a lesson in mindfulness, presentness. In his remarks, Corbett spoke about his relationship to poetry as well, saying, “I read poetry the way I listen to improvised music. It’s not so important to interpret an improvisation as it is to experience it. . . at full scale. No abstract; no précis.”
Linking the experience of engaging with von Heyl’s paintings to listening to this piece of music, Corbett added, “Charline’s paintings take time, too, but because they are paintings, people sometimes do walk past them, remark on their beauty, and move along.” But . . . and this is a huge caveat . . . von Heyl’s paintings defy conventional notions of beauty, the same way they flout traditional categorization. They are not, in her words, abstract paintings, nor are they figurative. Instead, they are “non-representational” paintings, which occupy an in-between space. To see von Heyl’s paintings always requires openness and total surrender. You have to look, move on, return and look again. This is a cycle of seeing the work on your own terms.
By Clayton Press