paula heisen
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Working on the parallel tracks of still life and landscape, I am captivated by the mysterious drama of light and dark. Raised in Southern California, I played in suburban yards with sun-carved zones of dazzling brights and cool shades. Indoors, I was transfixed by the film noir classics that were staples of 1950s television. That light outside, and flickering on our black and white TV, is a continuing presence in my work.

Painted in and around my garden in the Catskills, the landscapes distill the northern light and moisture-laden air of the Schoharie Valley into dreamy mirages that recall my Californian childhood, while the strange foreboding characteristic of northeastern landscapes remains. The still lifes are painted in my Long Island City studio. A kind of cabinet of curiousities, it is filled with natural history items, cultureal artifacts, bins of fabric and kitschy detritus. The objects become characters in the tabletop dramas I set up, with the colors of the fabric establishing a mood and atmosphere, a sort of inside weather. I often use spotlights to create the same slashing areas of light and dark that I search for in the landscape. The intersection of these two paths lies in the perceptual and emotional appropriation of light: I hope that the precision of tone and color creates the vivid, slightly hallucinatory reality of an irrational dream.