THE ARTWORK OF RICHARD HEIPP
CULTURE MASKS (2015-2020)
This series of paintings continues Heipp’s long-standing involvement in what the critic and painter Stephan Westfall recently referred to as “slow painting.” Slow painting is a method of painting production that involves a sustained, concentrated practice. In turn, slow painting requires a sustained, concentrated viewing to fully reveal its content as well as its presence not just as a picture, but as a contemplative, constructed object. According to Heipp, “this only takes place when, and if, the viewer realizes they are in fact hand crafted objects, producing what I hope will result in a profound shift in the viewer’s perception of the painting as an object.”
Cultural Masks expands Heipp’s exploration of representing images of artifacts and artworks layered through the system of the museum display. The series addresses the visual, conceptual, and metaphorical representation of the cross-cultural trope of the mask. Heipp explains that, “the mask becomes a surrogate for the portrait that is depicted through various cultural lenses and histories. In this series the masks serve as a container for archetypes of human nature such as the clown, the warrior, the saint, and the demon.” The masks have all been isolated and removed from their original function and context, encased behind protective transparent vitrines. Each is layered, altered, and amplified by the institutional methods of display. The captured and constructed image directly acknowledges the source while exploiting a monocular photographic language that includes depth of field and lens flare. Detailed depictions of intricate surface information become tissued with reflections of the vitrine and the museum environment.