robert hudson

By Patrick Collier

The first word that popped into my head was “rococo.”

I was in Elizabeth Leach’s front gallery looking at Willy Heeks’ large-scale paintings, and to describe the work with this single word would be going out on a limb. The flora represented in the work is more  Art Nouveau than Rococo, even though Heeks appears to have stenciled branches of leaves in some of the paintings. However, considered as a fractal-like counterpoint to the mathematics of the Baroque, the label might hold.

Might. As a strictly historical reference, “rococo” is inadequate, for these works were neither ornate nor embellished in that tradition. Nevertheless, they were a bit too much for my eyes to take in, a sensory overload, which is why the word came to my mind in the first place. Merely a loose association.

And I must say I wasn’t overwhelmed by the work. The paintings felt… unfinished? No, that wasn’t it, and I shouldn’t be so presumptuous. If anything, they maybe could have used some editing. There were some rather nice passages in the pieces, more than snippets, mind you, as if each canvas was a page of notes with its own set of annotations, some more developed than others toward a thesis, yet all left on the page as a testament to the process toward that theme.


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