Gainesville, Fla. — Museum Studies: The Artwork of Richard Heipp is a comprehensive exhibition featuring over sixty works in a variety of media—paintings, drawings, mixed media assemblages, and installations—, that address issues related to perception and illusion. The majority of the works focus on looking at art as the subject layered through systems of vision and the museum display. Many of the works on display here were initially included in a retrospective exhibition titled “Double Vision” organized by the Polk Museum of Art in 2018. This new exhibition marks the occasion of the School of Art and Art History’s faculty member, colleague, mentor, research professor and former director Richard Heipp’s retirement after forty-years at the University of Florida. Heipp’s extensive oeuvre included here spans the years between 1976 to present day and is exhibited simultaneously at the University Gallery and the Libby Gallery.
With the works presented in this exhibition it is important to consider Heipp’s creative process. It begins with carefully composed photographs or digital scans of artifacts, which he then replicates through a painting process employing the airbrush as his primary tool, frequently executed at a large, confrontational scale. Looking at a reproduction of Heipp’s paintings is very different from seeing the object in person, which might be one reason for the question “Is seeing believing?” that serves as the subtitle for the series Cultural Strabismus (1996-2000). Though a familiar query, in this context it takes on a new meaning the more one sees Heipp’s works in person and learns about his creative process. While looking at Heipp’s reproductions, it seems that the materials he used such as the paint and PVC sheet produce an illusion of luster or reflections on the surface of the painting, as when the depicted light seems to shine in such a way that one might think the paint itself is reflective.
The initial perceptions one has of these works, which may be mediated by photography and reproduction techniques, significantly change when viewed in person, as painted objects. First, the scale of Heipp’s compositions and the detail of his depictions are striking. When you direct your attention to Cultural Mask/Warrior: Armor (Les Invalides), on view in the Libby Gallery, you can spot the very small, individual airbrush “strokes” that come together to create the image. Given how Heipp’s process is painstakingly meticulous (the spray of the airbrush is sometimes as small as the hollow tip of a retractable ink pen), the artist’s reference to the critic, Stephen Westfall’s term “slow painting” is both telling and on point. The information of the surface texture and hard metallic lines of the rendering of the work become soft and much like the strategy implied in slow painting, viewers are compelled to engage in a gradual observation of the painting as they try to take in every carefully considered detail. One of Heipp’s intended outcomes is for his audiences to perceive the paintings and the objects in them differently than they would in a museum or in photographic reproductions. As Heipp states, “I am infatuated with the way we ‘see,’ and the manner in which contemporary culture consumes images.” This concept is acutely relevant in the present day as we are surrounded by an infinite and increasing number of images of objects, products, ourselves and others, across multiple platforms. Museum Studies brings awareness to the way images are presented to us in consumer culture in order to elicit responses, opinions, perceptions, and even actions that might shift how we perceive the world. In this sense, Heipp’s exhibition offers an experience that its audience takes with them beyond the spaces of art and the museum.
About University Galleries
University Galleries is comprised of three art galleries that play an integral role in the teaching mission of the School of Art + Art History, College of the Arts at the University of Florida, as well as serving the entire UF and Gainesville community.
University Gallery (UG) UG’s primary mission is to provide the greater Gainesville community with a contemporary venue that explores new directions in visual art, incorporating historical perspectives as well. UG collaborates with myriad UF colleges, community and regional entities in creating a trans-disciplinary venue for artwork that is relevant to education at UF, and the greater north-central Florida region. Exhibitions feature nationally/internationally known artists, a studio art faculty exhibition, and MFA graduating thesis project exhibitions.
Gary R. Libby Gallery presents art exhibitions that are organized by graduate student curators, in conjunction with the director of the galleries, providing an opportunity for students to learn experientially about curation, exhibition design, and presentation, and visitors to view professionally presented shows that primarily feature contemporary art.
Constance and Linton Grinter Gallery of International Art presents exhibitions organized by graduate student curators, in conjunction with the director of the galleries that feature international and multicultural artworks. This venue allows graduate students to learn experientially about curation and exhibition design, and visitors to experience art and artifacts from across world cultures.
Daytime parking is available in reserved spaces between Fine Arts Building C (FAC) and Inner Road. From SW 13th Street, enter campus on Museum Drive. Turn right on Newell Drive, then right on Inner Road. Turn left into the parking lot behind FAC. The first three spaces on the left are reserved for gallery use. Parking permits are issued to gallery visitors in the University Gallery.
The College of the Arts is one of the 16 colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. The College of the Arts offers baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its three institutionally-accredited schools — the School of Art + Art History, School of Music and School of Theatre + Dance. The college is home to the Center for Arts in Medicine, Center for Arts and Public Policy, Center for World Arts, Digital Worlds Institute, University Galleries and the New World School of the Arts in Miami. More than 100 faculty members and approximately than 1,200 students work together daily to engage, inspire and create. The college hosts more than 300 performances, exhibitions and events each year. Faculty and students also exhibit and perform at other local, national and international venues. To learn more, visit www.arts.ufl.edu.