Angela Heisch - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, March 2, 2023 | Phillips
  • “… while referencing these patterns in nature, I’m thinking of pattern as a rhythmic structure: the patterns of the seasons, their dependability, like the changing of the seasons or the beginning of a new day.”
    —Angela Heisch

    Unfolding in stunning crenulations of soft, blue gradients, Egg White Blue is an absorbing and lyrical work by New Zealand-born artist Angela Heisch. Now based in New York, Heisch is part of an exciting new generation of women artists who are radically advancing the visual language of abstraction into more embodied territory. While not figurative, Heisch’s softly undulating and spatially complex compositions draw on the natural world and architectural form to create exquisitely elegant paintings that the artist describes compellingly as ‘containers of emotion.’i


    Like Loie Hollowell, whose three-dimensional Split Orb series explored the exchanges between physical sensation and fluctuating mental states, Heisch masterfully manipulates surface, light and shadow to explore ideas surrounding the body and psychological space. Like Hollowell too, Heisch’s painting demonstrates a deep sensitivity to organic form and the kind of accidental symmetry found in nature, both artists building their compositions around a central axis, which in Egg White Blue anchors the composition like a spine running through the centre. Providing an inherent sense of structure, this skeletal element allows for more complex spatial dynamics to unfold organically across the composition, generating taunt exchanges between the receding and emerging elements within it. Testament to the rich and generative interactions happening within this creative community, in 2021 Hollowell invited Heisch to participate in the group show Romancing the Surface that she was curating for Grimm Gallery in Amsterdam, the exhibition crystallising conversations around materiality, the body, and space with the fascinating dialogues that it sparked between artists’ work.

    “...each form in the painting is reacting to the one before it […] There’s always some kind of spine or central point that everything unravels from, grows from, hangs from or is balancing on. Through that process they grow outwards and are very limited by their space.”
    —Angela Heisch

    While the soft geometry of the alternating arcs of cool, airy blues set against deeper hues here establishes a rhythmic patterning that visually recalls the experiments in capturing dynamic motion explored by the Italian Futurists in the early years of the 20th century, Heisch’s visual vocabulary tends more to the full biomorphic forms of Surrealists such as Joan Miró and Jean Arp. Indeed, Surrealism was an important early touchstone for Heisch, who cites René Magritte as her earliest painterly influence, his 1928 masterpiece The Lovers II leaving her with 'more questions than answers’ for the first time.ii


    Joan Miró, The Hunter (Catalan Landscape), 1922-24, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image: © Boltin Picture Library / Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © Succession Miro/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2023

    Like Miró, Heisch has developed a sophisticated pictorial vocabulary of repeating motifs and symbols, including the glowing orb, delicately wrapped over itself like the softly gradated and folded petals of a flower bud. Deceptively simple, this organic form allows Heisch to incorporate a sense of vitality and evolution across her canvases, the ‘spinning disk or floral motif’ appearing whole in some canvases, ‘while in others it’s starting to separate, like cells dividing under a microscope.’iii Positioned at the heart of her paintings, the folded forms act as a point of origin from which the fractal arrangements of her luminous compositions settle into delicate, balanced relationships with one another - fragments of a fluid, living whole. The physiological nature of growth itself seems of particular fascination for the artist, plant life and the activity of organisms at a cellular level informing her approach to pictorial composition.


    Shifting scale subtly from the microscopic to the cosmic, her paintings continue a dialogue with Georgia O’Keeffe’s softly undulating gradients and her ability to extract essential, abstract forms from nature. Like O’Keeffe, Heisch appears deeply affected by the details inscribed in the natural world, her paintings extending the interactions of colour, geometry, and scale that defined O’Keeffe’s abstract idiom. Similarly, Heisch does not simply replicate the symmetry and beauty observed in the natural world but uses these details as a means of conveying emotion in her compositions.


    Georgia O’Keeffe, Grey Blue & Black Pink Circle, 1929, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas. Image: Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation / Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/DACS, London 2023


    Much of the soft, polished smoothness and luminosity of Heisch’s paintings is the result of her meticulous process. Working on linen, muslin, or canvas over panel, the artist applies layers of gesso, each sanded down so they appear flat and smooth to the touch. Drawing primarily freehand with the occasional assistance of a ruler and compass, the artist transfers smaller pictorial arrangements worked out in her sketchbooks onto her paintings, adapting and revising the composition in the process. Like her application of line, colour for Heisch is highly intuitive, even within the limited palette that she was working with during this period. Finally, the artist adds the smaller dotted details and traces of ghostly, luminous threads which offset the more geometric arrangements and give her paintings ‘a sense of fragility, as well as movement and breath.’iv Combining flatness and depth, and executed with meticulous precision, Egg White Blue signals the promising new directions taken by women artists working with abstraction today.


    Collector’s Digest

    • With a visual language rooted in the abstract geometries found in nature, Angela Heisch has been the focus of increasing critical interest since her first solo exhibition with Davidson Gallery in 2019.

    • More recently, she has presented solo exhibitions with Grimm Gallery in Amsterdam and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London, as well as participating in multiple group shows.

    • Heisch holds an BA Fine Arts SUNY Potsdam, New York, 2011, and MFA from University at Albany.



    i Angela Heisch, quoted in Ravi Ghosh, ‘Angela Heisch’s Ambiguous Gradient Paintings Evoke the Joy of Stargazing’, Elphant Magazine, 8 February 2021, online.

    ii Angela Heisch, quoted in Rebecca Irvin, ‘The Subtle Dynamism and Asymetrry of Angela Heisch’s Geometric Paintings’, Artmaze Magazine, 12 September 2020, online.

    iii Angela Heisch, quoted in 'Angela Heish - Interview', Studio International, online. 

    iv Angela Heisch, quoted in Rebecca Irvin, ‘The Subtle Dynamism and Asymetrry of Angela Heisch’s Geometric Paintings’, Artmaze Magazine, 12 September 2020, online.

    • Provenance

      Davidson Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property from an Esteemed American Collection


Egg White Blue

signed, titled and dated 'Egg White Blue Angela Heisch -2019-' on the reverse
oil on canvas laid on panel
91.4 x 61 cm (36 x 24 in.)
Painted in 2019-2020.

Full Cataloguing

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £76,200

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 2 March 2023