Charline von Heyl, Skull, 2012, acrylic, oil, charcoal, and dry pigments on canvas, 82 x 74 in. (208.3 x 188 cm) (artwork © Charline von Heyl; photograph by Lamay Photo, provided by Petzel, New York). I via artjournal

Most of all, painting puts us into the thick of things. In recent decades, the medium has often been associated with some kind of glorified self or subjectivity. I want to assert that for most artists who paint, this isn’t true, or is a gross simplification.

Rather, painting always demands that we enter into a relationship with materiality—however urgent or deferred—and, in doing so, get out of ourselves. The painting process mobilizes matter: a painting is not only an object in the world, it is peculiarly animated, and often constantly fluctuates between an identity as stuff and as thing. The painting image makes the imaginary real, whether by picturing the world empathically from another point of view, or by giving form to a reality that previously existed only as virtual potential. These process/image qualities abide elsewhere, yet rarely so emphatically do they live together.

Charline von Heyl’s Skull embodies contradictory coexistence; a single thing, alive (and so shadowed by death), at once an almost-too-modest exterior view of a flat, opaque surface, scratched and scarred, and, suddenly inverting scale and perspective, an infinitely expansive, mysterious interior.

The painting makes no particular claims, yet seeing Skull properly could change your life.

– via art journal


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