Gina Heyer a South African artist who’s main focus is on photorealistic painting, capturing mundane empty spaces including schools and hospitals in minute detail. She has had three solo shows, ‘Threshold’ in 2010, ‘Order + Division’ in 2012 and ‘Still’ in 2022 and exhibited in various group shows around the country. She has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Stellenbosch University where she also taught for a number of years. Currently based in Stellenbosch, she paints full time from her Stellenbosch home where she lives with her husband and two daughters.
GINA HEYER: STILL
Jul 6 – Jul 23, 2022
Everard Read Cape Town is pleased to present: STILL, a solo exhibition of paintings by Gina Heyer.
The nine years spent completing STILL, Gina Heyer’s third solo show, have been distilled and embedded into these ten paintings. With this photorealistic body of work, Heyer places the viewer alongside herself in the interminable time of empty hospital passages. Brush marks are delicately eased away to create a sense of timelessness, and through her seductively slow layering of paint these utilitarian spaces are transformed into sites for deep contemplation. Like an insect trapped in amber, an instant of light shining on a surface is caught and slowed down to an eternal frame.
“Since beginning the paintings in 2013,” Heyer comments, “I have willingly and reluctantly found myself in hospitals for the complicated birth of two children, operations and two post-operative emergencies that brought me dangerously close to death. I’ve become familiar with the difficulty of reconciling the day-to-day routines with truly life-changing events, something that I feel is reflected in the paintings too.”
Created with the support of the Bright Foundation, the paintings in STILL reflect life caught between acts, with existence hanging in the balance just out of sight in the surgery theatres. The hospital passages are both literal and metaphorical spaces of transition, bracketing our lives from birth to death. While light softly pooling on floors draws the viewer in, the clinical surfaces and battered doors reveal the building’s bruises, pushing us away. Passages are nameless intermediate spaces, urging occupants to move on. But by engaging with these spaces slowed down in paint, the viewer is asked to pause a moment, reflect, and consider the present.
The passages depicted here are devoid of human presence except for a few laundry bags which become convenient stand-ins, seemingly waiting patiently and seeking comfort from each other. They are evidence of living bodies and human touch, and sometimes they contain the very last traces of a life to be washed away, dissolved. We grapple with comprehending loss. In these paintings, though, the laundry bags remain a constant. Precious reminders, they are still here with us.
STILL is a call to find calm and contemplation in our busy lives, acknowledge loss, and find gratitude in our still being here. Although hospitals can seem like sombre subject matter, it is Heyer’s ambition that perhaps a moment of reflection and a little warmth can be infused into these cold spaces.
ABOUT HEYER’S PAINTINGS:
In Gina Heyer’s paintings of night swimming pools and moonlit courtyards, a moment of calm is distilled in paint, but that silence and stillness balances precariously on the edge of something more ominous. These spaces emerge as recurrent dreams where familiar scenes are revisited but each time something is altered.
As spaces of transition and passage they urge the viewer to pass through, a reminder that one’s stay is temporary, and yet there is an urge to linger. The viewer’s gaze stalks the night and probes the dark spaces in search of something. Perhaps that something is just a feeling or an absorbing of a fully present visual moment; an observation of light interacting with solids and liquids, like visual alchemy. The paintings purposefully bring the seamless illusion of space and depth into tension with their flatness as almost paper thin veneers on flat and floating boards. Mundane and familiar spaces become beautiful and strange when stilled and eternally fixed through the slow and painstaking layering of paint.
“Paintings show us a single moment, even though they remain fixed for centuries. The ephemeral instant and unending duration are forced very close together, and that is one of painting’s special strengths- one of the properties that sets it apart from other forms of art. The instant, the very definition of change, is pressed flat like a dried leaf in a collector’s book and made to remain in place indefinitely”
James Elkins 2001
“There is no reason looking should be easy, because pictures are not just decoration. They are peculiar objects that pull at us, tugging us a little out of the world. A picture will leave me unmoved if I don’t take time with it, but if I stop, and let myself get a little lost, there’s no telling what might happen.”
James Elkins 2001
Born 1983. Lives and works in Stellenbosch, South Africa with her husband and has two daughters.
2007-2011. Master of Fine Arts, Stellenbosch University (cum laude)
2003-2006. BA Degree in Fine Arts, Stellenbosch University
2022. STILL. Everard Read Gallery, (catalogue) Cape Town
2012. ORDER & DIVISION, BRUNDYN + GONSALVES (catalogue), Cape Town
2010. THRESHOLD, IArt Gallery (catalogue), Cape Town
2021. OASIS: 25th Anniversary Group Exhibition. Everard Read Gallery (catalogue), Cape Town
2019. σύγχρονος (sýnchronos) Recent works by South African artists. Knysna Fine Art, Knysna
2019. A Smaller Scale. Ebony/Curated, Cape Town
2018. Shifting Boundaries: A selection of Works showcasing South African Women Artists of the past 100 years. From the Kilbourn Collection. Welgemeend, Cape Town
2017. 20 year Birthday Celebration. Knysna Fine Art, Knysna
2017. Fluid: Perspectives in Paint. Barnard Gallery, Cape Town
2017. Clare, Theo, Johann & Friends. Art.b Gallery, Belville
2016. Nano. Barnard Gallery, Cape Town
2016. MONO/LINO: Theo, Jono, Clare and friends. Art.b Gallery, Belville
2016. Home Truth: Domestic Interiors in South Africa. Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
2015-2016. Defining the Narrative. Gallery MOMO, Cape Town
2015. Jamestown Art Exhibition. Rynse Kerk, Stellenbosch
2015. However, works on paper by South African artists. Art Hub Gallery, London
2015. Imago Mundi – Luciano Benetton Collection. Map of the New Art, Venezia – Fondazionne Cini, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
2015. Grafen Graven: US Visual Arts Department Staff Exhibition. GUS, Stellenbosch
2014–2015. Imago Mundi – Luciano Benetton Collection. The Art World, Museo Bilotti, Rome, Italy
2014. Imago Mundi – Luciano Benetton Collection. Ca’ dei Carraresi, Treviso, Italy
2014. ‘Brave New World’ 20 Years of Democracy. Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
2013. Paint+ Experimental Ventures into Expanded Painting. Brundyn+Gonsalves, Nirox Projects, Johannesburg
2012-2013. MATERIAL / REPRESENTATION. Brundyn+Gonsalves, Cape Town
2011. Jo-burg Art Fair. Johannesburg
2009. Propositions: MAX Masters in Visual Arts Students Exhibition. US Art Gallery, Stellenbosch
2006. Portrait Exhibition. AVA, Cape Town
2006. Absa L’Atelier Awards (cat). Pretoria
2006. Graduate Exhibition. Sasol Art Museum, Stellenbosch
2006: Public vote favourite artwork. AVA Portrait Exhibition
2006: 2nd Prize; KUKO Art Competition
2005: 1st Prize in technical excellence; PPC Cement Young Sculptors Award, Pretoria
Luciano Benetton Collection
South African National Gallery
Stellenbosch University Museum
Lecturer in drawing and painting (part-time) at Stellenbosch University Visual Arts Department, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2015. Artelibre – “Arte y Libertad X ” (10th edition of the Yearbook “Art and Freedom”). Galeria Artelibre, Spain ISBN 13: 978-84-608-2672-9.
2014. South Africa: 10×12 @SA, Contemporaty Artists from South Africa. Imago Mundi, Luciano Benetton Collection. Fabrica, Italy ISBN 978-88-98764-09-9.
2010. Melvin Minaar, Art Times Review, Cape Town