Daniel Heidkamp

Senses of Place

  • For Amphora, his third solo exhibition at Pace Prints, Daniel Heidkamp furthered his exploration into elemental color and form with a new body of hand-cut paper collages. These stunning, vibrant landscapes emerged primarily from Heidkamp’s travels in the mountain west and the French Riviera, where he followed earlier artists’ pilgrimages to find transcendental experiences of light and color.

    Heidkamp built the collages up one element at a time with scissors, cutting out hundreds of forms by hand from sheets of French-made Canson dyed papers. The works, centered entirely on the relationships of hue and tone, represent both the artist’s personal, primary interpretations of place, as well as his responses to the formal aesthetic languages created by his forebears, from the Romanticism of Bierstadt to Cézanne, Picasso and Braque’s moves toward complete abstraction.

    This special online presentation is narrated by Daniel Heidkamp.

  • I'm a painter, primarily an oil painter. Most of my thinking evolves out of that process. With the paper, that was a way for me to really focus a lot on color. And build out my themes through focusing on color foremost and then shapes, but the paper — the way it locks in both the color and the value — allows for a different type of experience when rendering these subjects.

    The Canson company has been building this palette of fine art papers since the 1500s. So I love the idea of this tradition that these papers have been evolving for centuries. And there is a tradition for the colors: there will be “Clementine” and “Flannel” and “Tobacco” and different sorts of names that refer to both a color and a mood or an object that, if you're being very literal about, can kind of give you a clue about what that object will be good at representing.

  • The final collage from my 2017 show is the Jenga building, Leonard. By that point, I had sort of taken the hard edges of the city, and they started almost bending into surrealism or abstraction.

    I returned to the cityscape a little bit in Summer Central. Picking up there, Central Park started showing me more pastoral or floral looks, and then I took it to the Riviera and Yosemite, which I think both lend themselves to abstraction: you start out with this epic landscape, but there are so many avenues and pathways to go down that you end up with these abstract shapes in interesting color combinations.

  • I'm using the source material that I've created on site, which is usually small paintings, oil pastels, drawings, and a whole bunch of pictures.  Later I combine it with other sources from books and travel photography, things like that.

    But then I also think memory plays a role, where I'm referring back to that — not only how it looked, but the feeling that I had when I was there and the feeling that I want to convey to the audience, the feeling, usually a happy feeling when you're traveling, when you’re there and you get the sense of that place. 

  • I think one of the reasons I'm very interested in that region is because a big part of Cubism came out of that. To me, Cubism is famously the first truly abstract movement. Picasso made work in that region, up in the hills. I think he and Braque went up there together and they sort of strategized where art could go. Of course, famously, Picasso just took it in this direction and art went there.

    But what if they had stayed the course of responding to nature and the landscape and powered through that way and how would art end up being different? I'm more interested in that — the breaking point, the point where the path went to abstraction. I like to bump up against that and then sort of wonder where it would go if it stayed, still really relating to nature in representation. 

  • It’s like a pendulum swinging between trying to describe something true to nature, versus just letting abstraction and color be the thing that's driving it. I think if I spend a long time making something on one end of the pendulum, more realistic, that then I'll have the urge to make something more abstract and with more experimental color. 

  • If you are a person who had been to these places, you on some level recognize them, but of course I want them to take on a life of their own and create a new space that's entirely unique to the object as well. 


  • Your hand is sculpting these lines as you go. And there's a freedom there — you want to be true to nature and be specific, but you also want to give yourself the freedom to just to create these forms and let them happen naturally.

  • Notes

    All works of art © Daniel Heidkamp

    Interviews and recordings of Daniel Heidkamp, recorded at the artist's studio in 2020
    © Pace Editions