Echo in Color
The son of a chemist, Jay Heikes's chemical experiments and interest in nature and the universe has as much in common with alchemy’s attempts to purify, mature, perfect, and transform. In his fifth solo exhibition with Marianne Boesky, Heikes continues his signature kaleidoscopic play, extending a body of work that includes sculpture, drawing, wall relief, and installations into canvases based on found and photographed images and a series of “minor planets'' sculptures.
The medium line “oil on stained canvas” belies the complexity of Heikes’s process. In one series, he stains the canvases with vinegar, salt, and powdered pigment. As the chemicals react, they result in unpredictable shades, such as rust tones or fluorescent greens. Second Wave (2020), for instance, looks eaten by the darkroom, a cloudscape in high-pitched halcyon blue tinged with a florid acid yellow.
The sculptures on view are no less complex, made of concrete, copper, pyrite, slag, glue, salt, Kevlar, copper foil and aluminum foil. Ossified or fossilized, some adorned with hair-like strands, they look half animal, half mineral—like an alchemical transmutation, half-complete.
Jay Heikes, Michigan Triangle, 2020. Oil on stained canvas, 48 3/4 x 66 1/2 inches.