Stefanie Heinze’s exhibition at Capitain Petzel is the Berlin based artist’s first solo presentation in the city where she was born in 1987, and on whose northeastern outskirts she grew up. In 2017 she completed her studies in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig, with interludes at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo and the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine, USA.
Stefanie Heinze’s paintings depict scenes rife with fantastic encounters, composed of playfully transformative, and (a)sexual motifs. Again and again, the artist presents her protagonists in situations in which they perform specific movements, deeply immersed in themselves, with their eyes closed, and at a precarious moment, as if just about to fall. This fine line between serenity and failure contributes to the disquiet that characterizes the texture of Heinze’s paintings.
The starting point of Stefanie Heinze’s works are small-format drawings that often emerge from a collage process in which shapes are removed or added to. During the transfer to larger-sized canvases, translation errors occur and are actually welcomed, for colors and lines consistently end up speaking different languages and thus create new meanings. As a result, failure is not only always an option, but forms an integral part of Heinze’s imagery.
The personal as well as the political is intrinsic to the artist’s practice. Themes such as psychology, social class, gender, sexuality, the nature and procurement of food, digestion and everyday weather exert a major impact on her work. In this context, she is interested in anti-achievement and impossibility. Yet, instead of portraying failure with reference to a concrete figure or a specific marginalized group, she lets flaccid penises or, literally, carrots fly through her pictures. Accordingly, she proclaims “newsense,” a kind of pseudo-optimistic invention of her own making, as a retort to nonsense. The experience of failure achieves its own logic, complexity, and aesthetics, and thus its own beauty in Heinze’s paintings. The artist looks for the unexpected and subversive into which she integrates the perverse. Her paintings oscillate between high and low culture, embracing failure as a necessity and a better way of being.