Eric Heist at Schroeder Romero

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Eric Heist Artist Talk 2005 MDF, paint, blanket, papier-mâché, wire, wig 76" x 66" x 46" [large detail of installation*]


Eric Heist is a wonderful artist working with great skill in mediums traditional and perhaps not so traditional, but if you are conscientious and as interested as he is in the social and political issues which inspire his work you're likely to be a bit distracted at first by the drama of his extraordinary conceptual installations. The current show in Schroeder Romero's new space in Chelsea is no exception.

One year ago Heist had installed a sobering show, "Travel Agents", in the gallery's Williamsburg quarters addressing Western military and economic hegemony. Representations of traditional tourism institutions and tourist destinations were overlayed with direct textual references to U.S. military operations associated with areas which are the traditional focus of luxury or adventure travel.

The current show, "Interfaith Center", deals with the institution with the most powerful influence on individual behavior every where in the world: organized religion - in all of its confessional forms. Once again the "furniture" elements in the gallery will not disappoint, but don't miss the pencil drawings (in the office area) and the gouaches. They're not as scary or as outrageous as the sculptures and collages, but they have an extraordinary and perverse [for their subject] beauty of their own, and they should have staying power at least equal to the institution which stimulated them.


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Eric Heist Interfaith Center: Crystal Cathedral interior 2005 gouache on paper 30" x 22"


*
the press release describes this pulpit as the centerpiece of the installation.

At first glance it appears empty, but when the viewer looks behind the base he/she discovers a figure huddled in a blanket. Titled Artist's Talk, the piece comments on artists' unwillingness to articulate contemporary issues directly in their work while often treating artistic practice as a substitute for religion.


[lower image from Eric Heist]