Alex Heilbron’s Time and Intent

Review by Molly Cranston
Images courtesy of Meliksetian Briggs

Alex Heilbron started making the work included in Time and Intent before the Covid-19 pandemic began, before she felt that distinctive and strange “compression of time” we have come to associate with the past year. As she continued to paint through lockdown, Heilbron’s practice seemed to magnify her painter’s methodology. “This body of work makes a case for both slower image creation, as well as, slower image consumption,” she explains. Here Heilbron explores “concepts of production and femininity by situating pattern as the protagonist.” Laboriously hand-rendered patterns rule every aspect of her compositions, it is the subject and narrative; it is the language and personal system with which she relates to the world.

The paintings are filled with ponytailed girls, levitating flowers, florid squares and lines that merge together to form a symbolic woven surface. Psychedelic textile fantasies refer to a femininity on the cusp between girlhood and womanhood. Twins and couples stride side by side, appraising one another lovingly. The diligent geometry of lines is thawed out through the buttery and irregular application of paint. Perfect coded patterns are made from imperfect brushstroke petals. Wistful titles like ‘Faithful Mirror’, ‘Faithful Reflection’, ‘High Esteem’, ‘We Are Aspiring’ feel like kisses blown into the future. 

Despite the visually saturated nature of her work, deciphering Heilbron’s images feel more like the act of reading than looking. Like plots and subplots, patterns operate on separate layers, whilst creating a complex whole. She wants to create a democracy on the canvas, as though each square of paint could have been made simultaneously without a perceivable hierarchy of when the first or last mark might have been made. This contributes to an ambient wholeness and structure, like looking at an entire building or a map. In Time and Intent Heilbron draws her own map that “leaves the voyeuristic and feminine, domestic space and moves into an architectural space that insists on a femininity of the public sphere.” Time and Intent is on view at Meliksetian Briggs until April 10.

Faithful Reflection 2019 72 x 54 in

High Esteem 2020 72 x 54 in

We Are Aspiring, 2020, 72 x 54 in, detail

Labor of Thought, 2019 72 x 54 in