Paul Heyer
RIVERS started as a dream. I was coming out of a year of wild nightmares and wanted to make a show that felt more alive than my dreams. And I wanted to make paintings that would engage a younger version of myself who fell in love with painting in eighth grade. Back then I loved massive paintings that could be stage sets and insisted on their own POV and invented space. And I loved little paintings that whispered secrets too. Both approaches promised freedom. Every mark registered a code that spun out fractally to create not just a world, but new selves for the artist, viewer, and thirteen-year-old me.

I wanted this show to celebrate how painting underscores the porosity of ourselves, and to show how real and imagined worlds slip into each other. It’s also a love letter to my boyfriend, Rivers, who teaches me to see art differently. RIVERS marks the first time I have shown abstractions since maybe 2010, though I’ve been using silver lamé for a while. Like us, the fabric is fragile and tough, futuristic and pathetic—all at the same time. It acts as a non-color more than a white ground, refusing to participate in the action of the brush marks. Instead, it incorporates the color of our world, dissolving the “fourth wall.” The painted world and the lived world mix together, questioning what is real and what is not. It’s sexy and unstable.

These paintings live in flux, born of a queer perspective, meandering, layering, and dancing back onto themselves. Like a river. I paint sunflowers, our friendliest bloom, as both regeneration and death. A portrait of a nude figure deciding where to walk is both intimate and monumental. According to the River Continuum Concept, a watercourse is an open system in constant interaction with the bank, changing as it moves. These works investigate the ways paintings do that too.

Intentionally or not, all modes of aesthetic and technological production are tools to code out new realities. How do we seize agency in deciding what kinds of demi-god we become? What dream are we building? These paintings ask those questions too, just as painting always has.

-Paul Heyer

Paul Heyer (b.1982, Olympia Fields, Illinois) lives and works in Chicago, IL. He received his MFA in painting from Columbia University in 2009. Heyer has had solo exhibitions at Chapter NY, New York; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; Soccer Club Club, Chicago; Mickey, Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; among others. His work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Manarat Saadivat, Abu Dhabi, UAE.; Perrotin, New York; Paul Soto, Los Angeles; Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; Rodeo Gallery, London; Young Art, Los Angeles; 356 Mission, Los Angeles; and Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York (2012); among others.