Paul Heyer

  • Five glowing white orbs seem to float above branches against a deep blue background.
  • On a background of soft pink and purple clouds, "10,000 years" is written in cursive letters with a black smudged material.
  • A man with a red cowboy hat crouches in a bed of cattails with one knee on the ground, arms slightly stretched out cupping something. Five white circles overlay the image.
  • On a background of soft pink and purple clouds, "I Am the Sky" is written in large cursive letters with a black smudgy material.
  • A single charred black broom with white specks leans against a white wall.
  • On a background of soft pink and purple clouds, large X and Y chromosome illustrations float like strange butterflies.
Five glowing white orbs seem to float above branches against a deep blue background.
  1. Long In this vertical painting, the background consists of a rich, saturated blue mottled with areas of both lighter and darker blue. Extending vertically across the background are three thin, dark brown branches. From these branches sprout small leaves of various reds, blues, pinks, and purples. The branches also bear three ghostly, translucent apples distinguished from the background only by white outlines. The most dominant element of the painting are five large white orbs, each with a faintly translucent white glow. Three of the orbs are aligned vertically on the left half of the painting, while the other two are arranged vertically starting at the upper-right hand corner. This leaves the background of the bottom right corner fully exposed.
Paul Heyer, Heaven, 2017. Oil and acrylic on polyester; 84 × 72 × 1 ½ in. Courtesy of Chapter NY and Night Gallery. Photo: Robert Heishman.
On a background of soft pink and purple clouds, "10,000 years" is written in cursive letters with a black smudged material.
Paul Heyer, 10,000 Years, 2017. Acrylic on canvas; 32 × 28 in. Courtesy of Chapter NY and Night Gallery. Photo: Robert Heishman.
A man with a red cowboy hat crouches in a bed of cattails with one knee on the ground, arms slightly stretched out cupping something. Five white circles overlay the image.
Paul Heyer, Drinking Water (Cowboy), 2017. Oil, acrylic, and glitter on metallic silk; 84 × 72 × 1 ½ in. Courtesy of Chapter NY and Night Gallery. Photo: Robert Heishman.
On a background of soft pink and purple clouds, "I Am the Sky" is written in large cursive letters with a black smudgy material.
Paul Heyer, I am the Sky (Self Hypnosis), 2017. Acrylic on canvas; 32 × 28 in. Courtesy of Chapter NY and Night Gallery. Photo: Robert Heishman.
A single charred black broom with white specks leans against a white wall.
Paul Heyer, Model of the Universe(s) as Brooms, 2017. Burned brooms with resin, carbon-based paint, and shells; 10 × 10 × 10 in. Courtesy of Chapter NY and Night Gallery. Photo: Robert Heishman.
On a background of soft pink and purple clouds, large X and Y chromosome illustrations float like strange butterflies.
Paul Heyer, Chromosomes, 2017. Acrylic and oil on canvas; 32 × 28 in. Courtesy of Chapter NY and Night Gallery. Photo: Robert Heishman.

About

The MCA presents the first solo museum exhibition of Chicago-based artist Paul Heyer (b. 1982). In his most immersive installation to date, Heyer creates a multisensory, dream-like realm that combines his ethereal paintings and sculptures, which are rooted in his experiences and memories of being an active participant of rave and club culture.

The exhibition is set to a meditative soundtrack meant to prompt hypnotic or hallucinogenic feelings in listeners. In the background of this soundscape, we see Heyer’s large, pastel paintings, which feature floating figures of cowboys and abstract forms.

The exhibition also presents his recent sculptural work, including brooms that hang in a constellation above the viewer, suggesting a psychedelic fantasy, and a sculpture consisting of metallic lamé fabric draped across a bed-like platform in the center of the gallery. The silky material and its sheen provide another reference to both science fiction and the opulence of drag culture.

Together, the works create a balance between gravity and levity, light and dark, and past and future, prompting viewers to reflect upon a utopian model of the universe.

This exhibition is organized by Omar Kholeif, former Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives, and Erin Toale, former Curatorial Assistant, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. It is presented in the Dr. Paul and Dorie Sternberg Family Gallery and Ed and Jackie Rabin Gallery on the museum’s third floor.

Funding

Generous support for Chicago Works: Paul Heyer is provided by the Sandra and Jack Guthman Chicago Works Exhibition Fund, Night Gallery, Chapter NY, and Susie L. Karkomi and Marvin Leavitt.