The Physicality of Place: Daniel Heidkamp at Champion

Daniel Heidkamp's solo exhibition  at Champion (on view through February 25th) in Austin, TX highlights his strengths as a painter. I write this with the embedded pun fully in mind. He is a master of capturing light—whether tempering a fireplace's glow into this overall pulsing warmth or emblazoning a backyard with patterned tree-limb shadows. Heidkamp's light is an emotive presence throughout the excellently titled Glow Drops At The Chill Spot. - Read more by Austin contributor, Brian Fee, after the jump!

Daniel Heidkamp | Narratrix, 2012, Oil on canvas, 36” x 36”, Courtesy the artist and Champion

Heidkamp wields color with confidence. This was evident in Wild Beasts, a potent pairing of young "neo-fauvists" assembled by Brooklyn-based artist Ryan Schneider, held at this gallery last September. One of Heidkamp's signatures—in that exhibition and intrinsic in his work—is textural impasto, a day's worth of palette scrapings dolloped boldly onto canvas to emulate a hairdo's radiance, a tree trunk's uneven illumination. Even his use of impasto plays with the light. Take Alligator Alley, a large vertical canvas reverberating with South Florida's sandy white sunlight, bathing the Sprite-toned lawns in sprawling shadows. Heidkamp impastos the shrubbery and foreground columns with cooling, uneven earthy hues. They embody relief from this warm day, for despite the body of water occupying nearly half the painting, the gator slicing through its wobbly surface reflections equals a no go.

Daniel Heidkamp | Alligator Alley, 2012, Oil on linen, 52” x 38”, Courtesy the artist and Champion

Two points here: 1) Heidkamp begins en plain air, working against fluctuating light and time to harness a particular outdoor or indoor space. He then works from these preparatory studies in his studio, teasing out nuance and tone to more fully articulate how that scene felt. 2) I totally missed Alligator Alley's gator on first viewing. Heidkamp coaxes details from his on-site observations, converting the pleasant ordinariness of that Florida dockside to something personalized and intriguing. It is worth dwelling several minutes within Cool Lake Breeze, in the rug's psychedelic, gooey plushness, in the visual whoosh of a speedboat zipping past massive picture windows—that we only slowly realize the presence of a showering figure half-abstracted by the cabin's blue-wood stairs.

Daniel Heidkamp | Cool Lake Breeze, 2012, Oil on canvas, 38” x 38”, Courtesy the artist and Champion

Daniel Heidkamp | Here Glows Nothing, 2012, Oil on linen, 28” x 28”, Courtesy the artist and Champion

Though this is his first instance of showing scenes independent of portraiture, Heidkamp's paintings retain a strong sense of figuration. I remarked to him at the opening that shadows act almost as a character within this suite, like the geometric overlay across a lawn and lemony house in Here Glows Nothing. He called my attention to the wavy contours of a fence unseen beyond its shadow. I imagined where Heidkamp sat—perhaps on the balcony looking into this Massachusetts backyard—as he absorbed the scene, endeavoring to capture a sensorial totality from the view.

Daniel Heidkamp | The Night of 1000 Paintings, 2012, Oil on canvas, 42” x 42”, Courtesy the artist and Champion

The Night of 1000 Paintings (and its daylight kindred Mirror Image) offers a Bushwick take on the artist's studio, echoing Henri Matisse's classic The Red Studio in its intersecting planar orientation. Heidkamp amplifies the notion of space by reflecting paintings hung on the opposite wall in the double-set of windows, floating them above a flickering industrialscape. Besides the myriad portraits is a possibly unfinished take on Paul's Pool (hanging adjacent in this show), propped on a crate, Heidkamp's palette and brushes nearby. That poolside is enticing: hard-contoured shade and a blown-out gloss blanketing tiles and the stucco-pink wall. They resonate the day's heat, while the water's surface is all round-edged ripples and flecks of rainbow color. Austin might not have as severe a winter as Brooklyn, but I still felt like taking the plunge, staring into Paul's Pool. Heidkamp's scenes will move you like that.

Daniel Heidkamp | Paul's Pool, 2012, Oil on linen, 52” x 38”, Courtesy the artist and Champion


Daniel Heidkamp was born in Wakefield, MA in 1980 and earned his BFA at the School of the Museum of the Fine Arts in Boston in 2003. He has exhibited in solo shows in Boston and New York and in group shows internationally, including at Galerie Mikael Anderson, Berlin and Gallery Poulsen, Copenhagen. His portraiture is included currently in the group show MIE: A Portrait by 35 Artists at Freight + Volume, New York. Heidkamp lives and works in Brooklyn.

Brian Fee is an art punk currently based in Austin, TX. His culture blog Fee's List covers his three loves (art, film and live music) occurring in his other three loves (the Lone Star State, the Big Apple, and Tokyo).


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