Mint Museum RANDOLPH
Mar 6 2004-Sep 5 2004
/ Julie Heffernan's recent paintings masterfully combine imagery and technique borrowing from the grand historical styles of still life, portraiture and landscape.
Julie Heffernan's recent paintings masterfully combine imagery and technique borrowing from the grand historical styles of still life, portraiture and landscape. At first, one is struck by Heffernan's technical finesse, her canvases are beautifully painted, overflowing with opulent detail. After this initial arrest, the viewer is left to contemplate the content found within these allegorical paintings. Heffernan is known for her series of self-portraits, her face offers a unifying focus, and many of the paintings within this exhibition still bear the title "self-portrait" However, the self-portrait is not meant to be literal but becomes a vehicle to examine memory and to tell a story about the life of the mind, imagination and myth.
Heffernan's recent paintings, completed last year, are staged in a spacious room that could be a museum or grand ballroom. In these paintings the cast of characters has expanded beyond a captivating, but self-contained woman to a grouping of figures in formal gowns that engage in a ceremony or celebration. These selections, along with earlier works, illustrate how Heffernan fluidly moves from choreographing narratives in the landscape to staging events in complex, baroque interiors. Previous work seems grounded in the natural-cum-supernatural world, while her most recent paintings explore the rich symbolism surrounding flame and flight.
Heffernan's paintings are at once recognizable yet peculiar, evoking a sense of deja-vu, presenting imagery that could be conjured from a dream or premonition. Part history, part heresy, Heffernan's lush canvases engage the spectator through their narrative appeal. She plays to our desire for delight by filling the pictorial plane with an overabundance of visual opulence. While the story-line remains a mystery, Heffernan's paintings are an exotic theater, offering windows into the multiplicity of identities that comprise the Self.