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How Charline Von Heyl inspires me

©Charline Von Heyl, It's Vot's Behind Me That I Am (Krazy Kat), 2010 all rights remain with the artist

How Charline Von Heyl inspires me

The next Picasso or Braque will not invent cubism.  The next Peter Blake or Andy Warhol will not invent pop art.  And the next Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning will not create the Abstract Expressionist movement.  If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.  I realise that of the many successful artists following their path, however, Charline Von Heyl has figured out the real definition of success on the canvas.


Von Heyl understands how highly successful artists through the decades have been volleying the ball between themselves.  In order to create a meaningful and significant occurrence on the surface of the fabric, like they all did, in the play for visual ascendency, Von Heyl chooses not to paint like they did.  As a player and slayer, she often hits a screamer down the line past the other competitors, too close to the net to respond.  By making nothing the same, Von Heyl makes something you have never seen before. Ultimately showing us what success is on the canvas.  Her work is a positive contribution that provides validation to painters of all genres.


Although the artists before her cleared the path and controlled the direction, it is ultimately the canvas that shapes painting. Charline von Heyl with each and every painting paints a new escapade, and smashes it, like an ace to the back of the court. Teaching us all that there is not a defined set of instructions for making a successful painting as she making nothing same.

Many critics and professionals claim von Heyl has no recognisable repetitive style.  She has been disparage for the impossibility of what you see. When you look at a collection of her work, they are a complex mixture of ideas, images, icons and forms.  They could be called unusual, strange or outlandish.  However, I think some critics are making a mistake by saying she has no style. Von Heyl is showing her mastery as an image magpie and image-maker.  She has the dexterity of an artist of a new painting era.


Many artists don’t take risks, they get stuck.  It is like they have their feet glued to the area in front of the canvas and only able to use and reach whatever is close enough. Therefore they create a distinctively recognisable style, that at times feels like repetition.


Von Heyl work portrays a non-prescriptive fashion, a fresh look at the infinite diversity of being agile, for me that’s her style.  She is like a magpie collecting shiny things for her nest. Von Heyl’s work rouses me not only because of what it looks like, but it is also her philosophy.  It is how she thinks about her painting practices that inspire me.  I recognise that I need to appreciate this open and supple approach in myself and in my own art-making.  In order to develop freely, like in Von Heyl’s work, my painting practice needs to move on to an area of the unknown. To where I trust my intuition in the moment without a hint of hesitancy.

Charline von Heyl, Corrido, 2018 All rights remain with the artist

Charline von Heyl, Corrido, 2018 All rights remain with the artist

Charline Von Heyl painting

Hirshhorn Museum - 3 min youtube video

Von Heyl’s paintings go beyond conscious intentions and into a precarious game, where she is right on the edge of knowing what is happening will work. Her paintings encourage me to follow my natural inclination; and be open to my own spontaneity. Although my mind and ideas are expanding, it’s time to try to make sense of what is going on in my head, and try to keep up. To trust myself by putting it on canvas, even if I am not sure why it is working.


Each and every painting of Charline von Heyl’s work has its own atmosphere.   Like a gaseous mass surrounding the earth, retained by the paintings gravitational field.  The dominant tone or mood of a work of art, can be as different as walking through the red light district of Amsterdam, like in ‘Woman #2′ (2009) or like flicking through the fashion in the magazine ‘Language of the Underworld’ (2017) or perhaps riding a wave in ‘Poetry Machine #3′ (2018).


For me, they seek a reply, not in words but in rifting on a canvas.  Through an assembly of ideas, that is a proposition, open to possibilities and open to a new path.  Her paintings teach me to have optimism and self-confidence in what is truly mine.  They teach me how to learn to make better paintings.

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I realise I learn easily when there is something I need to do.  Von Heyl’s paintings give me permission to do what I want to do without feeling anxious about how it will be received.  I can stop worrying about whether it is serious or intelligent enough.  To have enthusiasm and confidence, in the proposition I want to try to state on the canvas.

Ideas are bobbing around my mind like in a turbulent sea.  After Von Heyl, it is open to even more possibilities.  Every cross-court backhand, every power baseline exploder is open for inclusion in the flow of the moment in a dynamic studio practice.

The goal is clear, my mind like hers can wander in any direction. It is precisely in her primarily visual world, she is an artist who is addicted to looking. She is dependent on risking it all on her zippy canvases.  Risking it all in the arena, without fear. She helps me locate the something l was missing. The confidence to make the work l want to make.

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She builds a layer on a layer as she creates a metaphor for illusionist space.  Textures, colours, patterns and shapes create a new melody.  She treasures and nurtures her individuality.  I highly value her personal vision. For me, it is recognisable language and style. Clashing patterns that push back and bring somethings forward.  They have energy and passion.  They are a complicated visual feast for the eyes.  A multitude of layered painterly gestures with different techniques.

The line is like a hidden scaffolding, the secret that holds everything together in her paintings.  Von Heyl uses it like a graphic designer, illustrator or a printmaker.  It is part of her toolbox to borrow bits and pack in visual history and language.  It is like the drawings and paintings in several foreign languages at once.  I can see Matisse’s cut-outs and traces Martin Kippenberger and Christopher Wool.

The work is tentative and sketch-like.  The colours at times are flat like they have been printed.  Encouraging an intensity critical focus and conviction.   Ultimately she makes me aware of my own presence and invigorates my instinctive understanding of the moment.  Now, I can’t wait to stop typing.  Von Heyl proves the belief that success is possible for all us.  Now that I have seen the real definition of success on the canvas.  I now yearn to make nothing the same and make my own exhilarating studio practise to create opportunities for you and me to win our own performance on the canvas.

Charline von Heyl, painting, art inspiration,

©Charline von Heyl, at Captain Petzel installation, shot all rights remain with the artist

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