Expression Emerges Through Process
by Marguerite Serkin
Richard Heller’s background in literature led him to the visual arts as a way to express ideas and sentiments words cannot reach. “I read Brian Greene’s ‘The Elegant Universe’ and became interested in the multi-dimensional aspects of quantum physics,” Heller said recently from his home in southern Vermont. “It was amusing to see how they tried to communicate that through illustrations on a two-dimensional page. Obtuse and abstract ideas can be visually represented to suggest things that language can’t fully explain.”
Currently on view at Brattleboro’s Gallery in the Woods, Heller’s paintings encompass a compelling mix of energy and calm, asymmetry and order. “Untitled Circle in 4 Directions” (2014) utilizes the centripetal form of a circle to draw the viewer inward, juxtaposed with lines extending outward in a centrifugal field. This use of opposing elements adds tension and complexity to the work, yet there is an overriding sense of unity bringing the images together as a single form.
Heller’s “Two Dimensions” (2015) painting is a more linear, less spatial work, boldly stated in its use of vibrant reds and in its roughly textured surface. “The title refers to what a painting actually is and in that sense what it might be trying to deny,” Heller said. “[The paintings] are all flat, two-dimensional surfaces where an infinite number of possibilities exist. It very well might be considered a more linear piece acknowledging that the picture plane is always flat and yet an arena for expression. [“Two Dimensions”] moved in a direction that reaffirmed this flatness more than some of the other works. I simply tried to follow that to its natural conclusion in making it.”