Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to present HEARTBREAK ON THE HIGH PLAINS, our fourth solo exhibition with artist Andrea Joyce Heimer. On view from May 5 – June 17, 2023 in Marfa, the exhibition features a series of new paintings and drawings, executed with a range of materials including acrylic paint, graphite, marker, and oil pastel.
HEARTBREAK ON THE HIGH PLAINS features scenes summoned from Heimer’s youth in Montana, from tales of animal brutality and the cruelty of the natural world to memories of bar fights and male predation. Throughout the exhibition, Heimer charts the work of mourning: the vicissitudes of anguish and long process of recuperation. Typical of Heimer’s practice, the paintings and drawings are framed by diaristic, often long-form titles offering insight into the compositions. The images themselves are rendered with flat perspectives akin to those of paper dolls, positioning Heimer’s world as a fantasy-scape through which artist and viewer can revisit fraught or difficult scenes with a more analytic eye, allowing moments of levity to shine through.
Central to HEARTBREAK ON THE HIGH PLAINS is the mourning process Freud describes in “Mourning and Melancholia,” wherein the griever faces the impoverished world wrought by the lost object and slowly, torment wanes. The melancholic, on the other hand, turns inward: While avoiding the conscious acknowledgement of loss, they remain beholden to its depressive vacuum in perpetuity. Heimer’s work revisits suffering, but in doing so refuses melancholic attachment, allowing for growth, light, and love.
Amidst the turmoil of a breakup, I began thinking about heartbreak in all its forms. As my own breakup churned along, my family in Montana were experiencing other heartbreaks—cancer, addiction, suicides. In each case there was a leadup to the heartbreak, the loss itself, and then the acutely terrible aftermath—a seemingly endless grief fog. I have come to think of grief as both a purgatory and a form of amnesia. A breathless feeling of being stuck with no visible exit. It seems impossible that you will ever feel normal again, or if you ever did in the first place?”
The normal people, those living outside of grief in the “real” world, give the universally familiar tried and true advice. “It will get better with time.” Never does this sentiment sound as ridiculous and flippant as when you really need to hear it. It seems preposterous that someday this incredible weight will lift. And yet, it can. In this group of paintings and drawings, I recall my past heartbreaks of all kinds: romantic, moralistic, familial, big and small. Making each one was an exercise in retracing a heartbreak that seemed inescapable at the time but whose sting has now lessened. But most of all, making this work kept my hands busy during the days most clouded by grief—each one a pocket of air where I could breathe a bit while I waited for time to pass.
Andrea Joyce Heimer (b. 1981, Great Falls, MT, US; lives and works in Ferndale, WA, US) received her MFA from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH, US. Her work has been exhibited at the CICA, Vancouver, CA; the Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA, US; Missoula Art Museum, Missoula, MT, US; Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US; Kasmin Gallery, New York, US; Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, US; Colombo Gallery, Milan, IT; Half Gallery, New York, US; CG2 Gallery, Nashville, TN, US; Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, WA, US; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA, US; Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, US and Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York, US. She is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation award and a finalist for the Betty Bowen Award.