A new solo exhibition from Kati Heck is a great excuse to see the new Tim Van Laere Gallery at their newly-built gallery headquarter in Antwerpen's Nieuw Zuid Living Space.  The bold concrete building, startlingly accented in strawberry pink, designed by OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen will be the home of the German-born, Belgium-based artist's fourth solo presentation with the gallery. All my friends are wild presents a collection of the artist's latest monumental paintings, bronze sculptures, photographic and textile works within a 10,700 sq ft space. "Every piece in this show was created especially for this space," Heck tells Juxtapoz about her work in Antwerpen's latest cultural landmark. "The big tryptic made of fabric was created specifically for the huge wall facing the window of Tim Van Laere Gallery. It spans over 6 meters. I wanted to make something like a banner one could take to a protest march."

kati heck07

A series of large new oils dominate the display. "The idea of seeding is definitely present in all works," Heck comments about the theme connecting each piece in the show, "They want to make us hot, hot, hot for the idea of sharing more empathy for one another, humans, machines, animals and plants." Considered to be an heir to German Expressionism; in works that regularly fuse different aesthetics, she is both an Abstract Expressionist and Realist painter. The results in captivating images where realistically-rendered elements contrast with surreal settings, or even with a surprise streak, smear or sculpture.

Heck thrives in uniting disparate elements together in references to comic books, films, popular culture, and pornography as she works her hand-made, stitched canvases. Heck regularly models the figures in her work after people she has met, using the imaginative power of the paintings to invite the viewer leading them into the process of storytelling. Successfully switching from one medium to another and intuitively changing techniques, visual languages, and styles keeps her creative practice fresh and exciting.

kati heck13

A life-size bronze sculpture of Sähfrau, described as, "a seeding woman, half-woman and half-wolf, placed upon a pumpkin as if it were her fertile pedestal" is a highlight. As Heck explains, "I was always intrigued by Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf idea, that we all have a split personality in one way or another. It's an ever-returning idea in my work." And like many of the artist's previous works that include “useful” objects such as cupholders, lamps, or a water fountain, Sähfrau is happy to function as a relaxing chair.

"Painting can be a very lonesome business, and making a film, for example, gives me the chance to work with my friends and have fun with them," Heck explains of the need to switch mediums. "It's all one Heck universe that supports another and gives the chance to have a Gesamtkunstwerk experience."

Kati Heck's "All my friends are wild" will be on show at the Tim Van Laere Gallery in Antwerpen, Belgium from May 23, 2019, through July 6, 2019.

Text by Sasha Bogojev