One to Watch

Stefan Heyer

Stefan Heyer is an emerging artist living and working in Hamburg, Germany. His gestural abstracts are an exploration of histories, both personal and shared, and are inspired by pop culture, political issues, and postmodern alienation. Stefan’s works are extremely layered, as he drips paint, scrawls words on the canvas, and  mixes mediums including oil and acrylic paints, crayon, pencil, marker, and digital photographs. Stefan obscures any tangible points of reference, enabling the viewer to discover new meaning in his works.

Stefan has exhibited his works in shows and art fairs across Europe in cities including Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, and Brussels. His first solo exhibition was at Mono Gallery in Hamburg. Most recently, he has a solo show titled Corridors at Gudbergnerger in Hamburg.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work? 

I set out to explore the vast territory between my personal West German, pop culture-embossed upbringing, political issues from the past, history in general, and our postmodern alienation. With my style, I want to reach an essence and pureness and authenticity beyond superficial levels of meaning. I have a very clear imagination of the approximate. Working with opposites, I mix abstraction with the tangibility of the visible world.

My main motive is the search for a new beauty in the contradiction of our reality. As it is with a good poem, the poetical sound, the lyrical vibe, needs to ignite the reader. The semantic level can gradually get discovered. Ambiguities are to be tolerated and withstood – it should not be too comfortable. If I immediately know what’s going on, it is getting boring. A painting should remain a mystery.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?  

Don’t cry. Work.

Prefer to work with music or in silence? 

I am an avid record collector and I do listen to music, every day since 1979. Taking inspiration from the world of music, I transfer the principle of sampling from music to painting, but my work is not influenced by what I hear. If the beat is going strong, it doesn’t mean my style is getting more expressive, or if I listen to Nina Simone, it doesn’t mean the color palette darkens. Music is the master’s voice.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be? 

One of the paintings my daughter Greta did for me. If I could have another one? Either a Caravaggio, Hieronymus Bosch, Caspar David Friedrich, Francis Bacon or Cy Twombly painting would be fantastic.

Who are your favorite writers?

I read a lot about history and political issues on the internet, as well as books on architecture (currently about brutalism and the writings of Mies van der Rohe). Michel Houellebecq books are always great to check out. I love the poems of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann. All things Zen are interesting to me. One of my favorite books is The Way of the Tarot by Alejandro Jodorowsky. His The Holy Mountain is perhaps my favorite movie of all time, besides everything by Stanley Kubrick.