Berlin-based artist Thilo Heinzmann treats each surface as a unique repository; a site for exploration and experimentation with different materials. Combining pieces of styrofoam, fragments of Hessian fabric (known as burlap in the U.S.), brightly colored pigments, and nail polish, he creates composites that live within plexiglass encasements. His current exhibition “When a mule runs away with the World,” now on view at Andersen’s Contemporary in Copenhagen, features a selection of recent three-dimensional paintings that employ an economy of color to brilliant effect.
Whether he’s introducing oil to canvas, pigment to board, or nail polish to styrofoam, Heinzmann’s decisive configurations of forms and precise application of color demonstrate a formidable process.
In the 2014 O.T., (which stands for Ohne Titel, or Untitled), deep blue and indigo pigments swirl together in a dynamic pattern that recalls images of the Northern Lights. Small white streaks cut through concentrated areas of these prismatic pigments, suggesting that the artist has run his fingertips along the work’s surface. Like a Color Field painter, Heinzmann uses a spirited palette and finds a certain expansiveness on the surface of the canvas that suggests infinitesimal space. Subtle chromatic gradations give an impression of otherworldliness and cosmic transcendence.
Another O.T., from 2015, demonstrates a rigorous investigation of materials. A folded swathe of Hessian fabric is dusted with a swipe of white pigment. For its textural integrity and organic sensibility, O.T. recalls an Eva Hesse resin sculpture. Dried, split puddles of epoxy and frayed fabric edges reveal the artist’s minimalist sensibility. In another work of the same name, a small yet dramatic splattering of orange nail polish enlivens a flank of clean, white styrofoam.
In his cool, even-handed approach, Heinzmann tempers freewheeling, gestural movements with a sense of restraint. In one moment, he may focus on applying an admixture of materials, but in another he relinquishes control and allows certain earthly elements—gravity, for one—to act upon the surface with natural, poetic grace. The artist invites viewers into his dynamic, well-balanced world, greeting them with spinning galaxies of color, compelling bits of material interplay, and rich textural juxtapositions that suggest mysterious force fields of the beyond.
“When a mule runs away with the world” is on view at Andersen’s Contemporary, Copenhagen, Aug. 13–Sept. 26, 2015.