Charline von Heyl, Exhibition view, Secession 2004, Photo: Matthias Herrmann

Charline von Heyl

July 2 – September 5, 2004

“If there were a general theory of gestures, a semiological discipline that would allow us to decipher gestures, then art criticism would not be, as it is today, a matter of empiricism or “intuition” or causally explaining away aesthetic phenomena, but would instead be an exact analysis of gestures frozen into paintings. Lacking this kind of “choreographology”, perhaps it is a better strategy to observe the gesture itself, as though it took place concretely before us and thus in us: as an example of freedom.” (Vilem Flusser)

The point of departure for Charline von Heyl’s image production is the painterly process of creation and the question of the means of painting. What is characteristic for her image language developed from gestures and movements is that the actions—unlike European and American Abstract Expressionism—are formulated neither as signs nor writing, nor is the brush stroke itself elevated to a motif. It is not the materiality of the tool nor its use as an extension of the body, but rather the movement behind this, the movement of deciding, which is the actual theme of her pictures. The multifaceted, often contradictory steps to determining and developing the image are present in each work.


Charline von Heyl, born in 1960, lives and works in New York City.