Hirschl & Adler Modern is thrilled to present The swamps are pink with June, Julie Heffernan’s debut solo exhibition with the gallery. Across fifteen new paintings, the artist’s female protagonists, stand-ins for the viewer and the artist herself, inhabit lush gardens and resplendent trees. Nestled beside blooms of rich color are scenes and depictions from western art history. The Fall of Adam & Eve, Hudson River School landscapes, and portraits of Queen Victoria blossom from expansive branches. In others, dense shrubs grow from under the central figure’s skirt, rooting her to the landscape that surrounds her. Climate activism, feminism, identity and lineage are the major themes of Heffernan’s career and here they entangle in fresh and welcoming ways.
Included here is Heffernan’s newest body of work, her Spill paintings. Born out of the artist’s search for fresh energy in the studio, Heffernan began pouring paint onto canvas to begin each work. The splashes of color that pooled on the surface captured by accident the same energy that she would so painstakingly try to render. Working back into these spills unlocked worlds within worlds, adding a logic and a structure to an otherwise haphazard and random order. The artist herself writes: What I’ve found in the paint spills now is something akin to the chaos I need to describe the actual chaos happening in our environment right at this moment.
Yet, a sense of optimism runs through the paintings, linking them to the Emily Dickinson poem whose line serves as the title of the exhibition. Dickinson writes of the cycles of nature and life, as experienced through her garden, and how out of the bleakest of times things will return to flower and grow. As we continue to push forward through our own dark era, it is good to remember that Spring will always arrive, and for those of us who keep “an Orchis' heart—The swamps are pink with June.”