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    The Bride in Heide Trepanier
    Courtesy of Stefan Stux
    The Bride

    Boss of toss

    Heide Trepanier tosses, drips, pours and dribbles paint onto canvas and then outlines the shapes, giving them autonomy and animation.


    There must be a surprising female fascination with Jackson Pollock's splatter and drip technique. This is evidenced in the practices of three contemporary artists that pour paint: Jane Callsiter of California, Maggie Michael of DC and Heide Trepanier of Virginia. In her current show of twelve paintings and an installation in the entry of Stefan Stux Gallery, Trepanier is both the closest to Pollock in drawing skeins of paint, yet most removed from Pollock by mediating the sense of airborne freedom.

    Exhibition: New Paintings.
    Works by: Heide Trepanier.
    February 24 - March 26, 2005

    Gallery: Stefan Stux Gallery
    530 W 25th St
    New York NY
    Phone: (212) 352-1600

    Trepanier's method is to toss three or four colors of paint onto flat panels usually laying horizontally. The panels are good-sized but not mammoth and well-scaled to reflect the paint chemistry of tossed enamel or acrylic. The splashes careen in from the edges, often engaging them. These panels have all received a base coat of some excellently obscure color.

    The artist will then tease drawing from the splashes of color while it is still wet, occasionally interlacing lines of color. Unlike Callister or Michaels, who pour large planes of blob-like flowing paint, Trepanier is most often developing a drawing of lines, branches, tendrils and star-like splatters that are unusually delicate and graceful. Because the base coat is dry, each color remains separate from the other and a foreground/background reading of space is very clearly in place. A few select drips are allowed to flow around the edges of the deep stretcher bars as a kind of autobiographical footnote.

    The geeky, obsessive outlining...brings to mind Dr. Seuss vistas.  

    When this is dry, a glossy black paint-marker is used to outline the colors. It is this mediation, the black outlines, that pulls the paintings far from the nature of action paintings. The outlines are an aggressive comment on the notion of freedom. The splatters become biomorphic characters spawned in a comic-book space. And the geeky, obsessive outlining, coupled with markings that impose a reading of overlapping limbs, brings to mind Dr. Seuss vistas. "Vomitorium" is an example where squid-like forms intermingle. The painter says the work can generate "an odd, sad and sometimes violent narrative". There seems a pervasive pessimism, reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec — a fascination mingled with dread of the human condition. Indeed, one painting is titled "Fatalist".

    One cannot second-guess Trepanier's color sense; it is hard to beat. We are treated to a select palette of odd, understated colors that really sing in concert. For example, "Bellies of Reason" composes three great grays with a blue and a sienna in a casual tangle leaving large open expanses of background. Another marvelous concoction is "Ensemble of Feelings" where a glossy ochre field plays host to turquoise of similar value, creating a vibrating central pocket.

    The large diptych, "Surfeit of the Senseless" shows that Trepanier has to work at scaling up the techniques. Here the paint's chemistry and the drawing implements are struggling to fill the space yet retain a freshness found in the medium-sized panels. When the panels rely on obvious gravity-induced drips, the drawing loses some of its forcefulness.

    Trepanier is at her best etching deeply surreal abstractions that stretch the linear into the blobular.

    MARCH 13, 2005

    Reader comments on Heide Trepanier:

  • Sweet   from Brittne Wersal, Dec 13, 2006
  • [no subject]   from Ron, Mar 24, 2010

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