Angela Heisch’s Surreal Paintings are Both Familiar and Unfamiliar

Though predominantly abstract, Angela Heisch’s paintings seem to be in dialogue with nature. This quality is very much intentional. In fact, according to Heisch, her work stems from her constant investigation of the natural world. Using repetition and patterns, Heisch aims to replicate balanced organic compositions found in nature. The end result is both familiar and unfamiliar—an uncharted territory one is invited to explore.

“I’ve always been inspired by patterns in nature, natural phenomena, and things that feel much bigger than ourselves, while also feeling familiar,” reflected Heisch in a recent interview with Whitewall. And yet, being abstract, her paintings also have a sense of openness to them.

“I’ve been thinking more about fantasy, really striving for less rigidity in my work,” says Heisch. “I’m thinking about space, actual imagery of outer space, but more so I’m thinking about the forms in my paintings existing in a space that isn’t grounded or rooted in architecture.”

These spaces can reflect both the outside world and our personal interpretations of it – a psychological landscape of sorts that reminds of surrealist paintings from the early 20th century. “I’m thinking of this newer work as exhibiting forms grown in nature, the balance and chaos that entails, and having lots of fun exploring all the possibilities of that imagery,” says Heisch.

Her sense of exploration and experimentation can also be traced to her creative process. “I start with a series of thumbnails, to get a few possible scenarios for a painting,” explains Heisch. “From there, I most often make a pastel based on one of the thumbnails. The pastels are great to work out color, and maybe to edit composition.” She adds that while she tries to match colors accurately to the pastel during the first few layers of underpainting, she usually stops paying such close attention to the pastel reference as the painting progresses.

Born in New Zealand, Heischwas raised in Buffalo, New York, and attended SUNY Potsdam, where she received her Bachelors in Fine Arts in 2011. She then went on to attend the University at Albany, where she received her Masters in Fine Arts in 2014. Now based in in Brooklyn, New York, her selected solo exhibitions include Trapeze, Davidson Gallery, Heed, Transmitter Gallery (both in NY), and Like Molasses, No Place Gallery, Columbus, OH.