claus-heinecke-100dpiAnyone who visits Colborne will be familiar with Claus Heinecke’s landmark sculpture “Empathy” that is placed outside the Colborne Art Gallery.  Now Heinecke’s most recent works of sculpture (with drawings) will be featured inside the gallery from August 23 to September 28 as he presents his show “Space/Shape.”

The title of the show expresses the artist's idea of abstraction: shapes define the space and vice versa.

Heinecke was a designer for several major design agencies and at his own design studio. He insists that his design practice was visual problem-solving then and also now in the sculptural work that has occupied him for the past ten years.  Now though, he designs for purely aesthetic reasons without the need for function. The same principals and tools of harmony, balance, rhythm and repetition apply.

Heinecke is a big proponent of drawing to articulate ideas.  He often starts with doodles and develops things from there.  He maintains that good drawing skills offer better access to the subconscious and that is where all the fresh things can happen!

Once he has chosen this initial drawing he can develop the idea further.  For a sculpture, that usually involves putting on his “engineer’s hat” to figure out how to get it standing and looking good in space.

Heinecke has fascinating ideas about abstraction.  His work does not provide a narrative.  He muses that we so depend on our visual experience that sometimes people are confused if they don’t recognize the subject.

He points out that music is a medium where people are more willing to accept not knowing what the piece is about.   Music with lyrics makes the art form literal but instrumental music is more abstract.  He notes that when we make visual rhythms of colour and shape, it’s sometimes harder for people to understand.

Even still, Heinecke's pieces often combine representation with abstraction.

“For me it’s really about the rhythm of the form and the way lines move across that form,” he says.

“The name of the sculpture can often be helpful in understanding more about the piece.  For instance, with the outdoor sculpture “Empathy,” the title helps us understand it is about two forms relating.”

Included in the show are two prototype plaster sculptures accompanied by drawings that suggest a much larger scale, in case a client is interested in commissioning these works.

To me the jewel of this particular show is a stunning black cherry sculpture entitled Scherzo Angleo, which has been underway in Heinecke's studio since November.  The title refers to the name given to the frivolous part of a symphony, but here the artist invites the viewer to enjoy the play of lines and planes.   He offers us fascinating angular spaces to explore as we look around and into the form.  He is also developing a strong series of drawings in conte crayon and charcoal that both depict and surround this central, dynamic piece of sculpture.

Mark your calendar: Space/Shape opens at the Colborne Art Gallery (51 King Street E.) with a reception on August 23 from 2 – 4 pm.  The show will continue through to September 28.  All are welcome to attend!

 – Annie McDonald