With humour and a sense of the absurd, Kati Heck (b. 1979, Düsseldorf) dissects the world around her and creates her own universe. Any search for a clear narrative in her paintings, sculpture, films and performances will be fruitless. Heck provides no certainty, leaving everything to our imaginations. Hauruck d’Orange is her first major solo museum show in the Netherlands.
The work of Kati Heck is a masterful cacophony of colour, images and language. Her often large figurative paintings and sculptures bring two worlds together: one that is familiar and can be linked to events and people in the artist’s everyday life, the other absurd or downright disconcerting, like a fever dream. She presents her characters in a theatrical manner – posed or wearing extravagant costumes – and Heck herself regularly features in her work, each time in a different, almost allegorical form, as if she were her own muse.
From enigmatic realism to cartoonesque sketches
The exhibition at GEM will bring together more than twenty new and recent works. The staging will invite visitors to use not only their eyes, but also their body, their memory and their subconscious. Hauruck d’Orange will highlight Heck’s combination of various media and visual idioms, with abundant references both to art history and literature and to folklore, popular culture and autobiography. From enigmatic realism to cartoonesque sketches: Heck creates a parallel world where categories and meanings are fluid.
Besides paintings, drawings, collages and sculptures, the exhibition will also feature a video work, Der springende Punkt case II: O (2017). This second part of an ongoing film trilogy project is by the Babydetektivclub, a shifting group of friends and makers with whom Heck collaborates. The film plays with clichés from crime fiction, and testifies to a certain democratic DIY attitude. This is also apparent in the huge handmade ‘manifesto’ that welcomes visitors as they enter GEM: anything goes and nothing is as it seems.
The word ‘Hauruck’ in the title of the exhibition, Hauruck d’Orange, occurs frequently in Heck’s paintings. It is a word of encouragement in the German vernacular, meaning something like ‘come on!’. ‘Orange’ of course refers to the national colour of the Netherlands, the country where she is to make her mark with this solo exhibition. The three main colours in the exhibition space are a ‘faded’ version of the German and Belgian flags. To Heck, this symbolises the blurring of identity. The idea of metamorphosis – whereby one thing transitions to another – is also frequently seen in her work, as in two-headed creatures or hybrid human figures.
Kati Heck lives and works in Pulle, Belgium. She studied painting at the Royal Academy of Arts in Antwerp. Her work was recently exhibited at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, CAC Malaga and M HKA in Antwerp. A lavishly illustrated catalogue published to accompany the exhibition will be available at the museum shop.