Fresh from a group portrait show at the journal gallery alongside Dana Schutz and Henry Taylor, painter Daniel Heidkamp takes a traipse through european art history.
BP Tell me about your White Columns show last June.
DH We wound up using my big winter painting, “Metropolitan High,” as the working title for the show. It makes direct reference to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, of course, which you can see in the background and then there’s the drug implication. You could also say it’s a nod to high art.
BP More broadly, I thought your exhibition channeled the frustrations and aspirations of a young artist starting off. I know Sherrie Levine says a lot of her early work came from the feeling of having her face pressed up against the glass.
DH My idea was to do a series of landscapes where The Met was, on some level, in every painting because automatically it’s a charged environment, front-loaded with imagery and meaning. The grounds behind The Met seemed like an appropriate location for a young painter, the outsider looking in. I go to The Met and visit their Poussins and Van Goghs, but I live in the 21st century so you can’t help wonder, what is oil painting today?
BP And at the same time, by making these paintings, perhaps it’s your ticket inside these venerable institutions?
DH Yeah, totally. Some of the paintings were crisp and solid while others had what you always find in oil painting, which is slippage, and it’s in those little moments where you can enter the work and find something uncanny. I painted the changing of the seasons, how the light mutates, the cool blues, the blossoming of pink and white.
BP I saw Peter Doig at your White Columns opening and I wondered if he’s an influence?
DH Definitely, anybody who is making representational oil painting today I will look at. Alex Katz was probably the first painter I ever took notice of who gave me some point of entry.
BP I know Doig will use photographs as source material. Is that an approach you take?
DH Most of my source material comes through observational painting from life. It’s the central core of what I do.
BP Is that what they call en plein air?
DH Yes, in the open air. Weirdly, when I was in France last month, the only time I saw that phrase anywhere was on the side of an ice cream truck. But I don’t necessarily use that term. I prefer to say “live” painting. I’m not trying to make a spectacle of myself. I don’t want people to come up to me, quite the opposite. For me, it’s the simple matter of painting without a screen, without a filter, between myself and what I’m representing.
Daniel Heidkamp “Untiteled(Holly)”
34x29In Oil on linen 2014