Looking + Seeing: Anatomy Paintings 2005 - 2015
September 5 – October 17, 2015
I have been very involved with the intersection of technology and vision with artistic production. I am interested in the way we "see" and the manner in which contemporary culture consumes images. I believe the 21st century has brought about an important difference between looking (the superficial way we digest most images) and seeing (a profound looking which includes an aspect of contextual understanding). It seems that we are so inundated with a glut of images from media, advertising and popular culture that the specific individual importance and meaning of an image is lost in the pollution of mass-produced image vocabularies and systems present in contemporary culture.
I have created the term “photocentric” to describe my carefully crafted airbrushed paintings. I go to great lengths in my paintings to mimic a photographic, or mechanically produced looking visual language. In fact, at times I hesitate to even call these works paintings, even though they are 100% “hand” painted. My intent is for the viewer to initially assume that they are looking at a mechanically reproduced photographic or digitally produced image. Then, only upon astute and close observation, is the true nature of the image, and the highly crafted object revealed, subverting assume notions of craft, production and ultimately perception. I believe this subtle subversion produces a profound change in the relationship of the viewer to the object, in turn, altering itʼs meaning. I hope my work causes the viewer to slow down and really look in order to see.
A recent series of paintings titled “Pictures Like Paintings” expands upon this interest. For the central subject matter, I am recycling “unused” photographs by the 19th century American painter Thomas Eakins. The vintage Eakins imagery is recontextualized and layered with various contemporary “image cells” that are created through a digital “scanographic” process.
Scanography produces an image matrix that is derived by recording a still life directly into the computer by arranging various objects directly on a large format flatbed scanner and supplementing the lighting with auxiliary external illumination sources. This process produces a rich, beautifully lighted, highly detailed image that completely by passes the traditional lens resulting in an image unique to this process.
These notions are expanded upon in a recent series of paintings and large format digital prints that exclusively employ scanography to create the image. I am interested in creating an intersection in the relationship of the natural and cultural with the historic legacy of Vanitas and Momento Mori, exploring how these themes might relate to contemporary culture. I am exploring the way in which we see, or do not see, through a notion of prosthetic or “cosmeticized” seeing. I them combine these concepts with various anatomical models hoping to address what I see as related issues surrounding Cartesian theory and self-identity.
Richard Heipp received his M.F.A. from the University of Washington. He has taught painting at the University of Florida for more than 25 years. Heipp is a painter who also creates large-scale installations and site-specific public art projects that synthesize digital and analogue processes. He has had more than twenty-five solo exhibitions and his work has been featured in over one hundred group exhibitions. His paintings and installations are included in numerous public and private collections nationally including the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, the Harn Museum of Art, the Progressive Companies, Miami University and the City of Seattle. Heipp has been awarded commissions for eighteen major, site specific, art in public places projects through national competition or direct invitation. Heipp has received four State of Florida, Individual Artist Fellowships,a Southern Arts Federation, National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in painting, and was honored by the Southeastern College Arts Association,receiving the Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award for 2006. In addition, Heipp was awarded a Research Foundation Professorship in 1999, and was honored as UFʼs, 2007/08 College of Fine Arts, Teacher of the Year. Heipp is currently a Professor and Interim Director at the School of Art + Art History, University of Florida, Gainesville.