Paul Heyer (b. 1982) is an artist based in Chicago, IL. Heyer received his MFA from Columbia University in 2009 and is represented by Night Gallery in Los Angeles and by Chapter NY in New York. His work has been exhibited at Andrea Rosen, New York; Shane Campbell, Chicago; Rodeo, Istanbul, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. His work has been featured in Artforum, The New York Times and FlashArt.
What is it like living and working in Chicago? To be honest I was nervous about moving here from LA, but I was thrilled to find a group of artist friends that really make Chicago feel like home. It’s actually an exciting place to work because I think we feel a little more insulated from the market or critical discourse, which can help free artists up. I know it has for me.
What is influencing your work right now? I’m thinking a lot about the transition from ’80s Neo-Expressionists into ’90s German painters, like Michel Majerus and Jochen Klein. Also looking at rave posters and people’s attraction to pop philosophy movements.
What are you reading right now? I just finished reading “The City and the City” by China Mieville, which is a kind of noir that takes place in an imagined East European city during a Cold War-like time. A “fun” meditation on the arbitrariness of borders and perception. And I recently started “The End of Eddy” by Edouard Louis.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I have a Chicago Works solo presentation at the MCA in January. I think it’s going to be dramatic and exciting.. a little slice of scary heaven, hopefully.
If you were a drink what drink would you be? Durian milk shake.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Michel Majerus, Trisha Donnelly, El Greco, Guston, Lupertz, Fischli & Weiss, Sister Corita, Jenny Holzer, Monet, Andy Goldsworthy, Sarah Lucas, Nan Goldin, Anri Sala.
What is your process like? My process is like an cloudy spiral-shaped weather system, where the ideas start to churn and pull inward toward each other as the project comes into focus. The ideas themselves are usually figured out while on a walk or in the pool. Then the creation of the paintings (or whatever) is relatively quick and spontaneous.
Favorite Chicago hangouts? Mostly my friends’ apartments. But I weirdly go to Anteprima in Andersonville a lot, because they have a weekday prix fixe that’s a great deal. Other than that I love Smartbar, because when I was nervous about moving here I told myself it would be ok, since I could dance at Smartbar every Sunday. I love to get a drink at the Water Hole on Western by myself every now and then.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? Permission to let go of the static-y chaos in their brains and hearts.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? The rocks in Hyde Park.
What were you like in high school? Observant… alternately very quiet or clownish.
What are some of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? I had a show last year at Night Gallery. I was excited about it partly because I thought it was going to be a super uplifting show but some people told me they thought it was very sad. Lol. I was like, “Oh! ok!” But I mention that as one of the best reactions, since it showed me that sometimes other people can know the work better than me. And it showed that people are looking and feeling openly.
What do you do when you’re not working on your art? Clean.
If you had not become an artist what do you think you would be doing? Radical Landscape Architecture.
What are you listening to right now? In terms of current music, I’m listening to mixes by Ariel Zetina, Jared Brown, Huerco S.’s “QTT4” ,and Jesse Sioux (Wulfcho). Other than that, lots of ’90s… the most played these days are Goldie “Inner City Life” (Burial Remix) Goldie vs Ulterior Motive – “I Adore You,” Madonna’s Erotica album, Ce Ce Peniston “Finally” (Original 12″ Choice Mix), and Pete Namlook “silence.”