Museum of Contemporary Art Presents CHICAGO WORKS: PAUL HEYER Exhibit Preview

Paul Heyer, Five Apples, 2015 Robert Heishman, courtesy of the artist and Chapter-NY
Paul Heyer, Drunk Skeleton, 2016 Jason Mandella
Paul Heyer, FOREVER, 2015 Robert Heishman, courtesy of the artist and Chapter-NY
Paul Heyer, Adam and Eve, 2014. Jason Mandella, courtesy of Paul Heyer and Chapter-NY

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents the first solo museum exhibition of Chicago-based artist Paul Heyer. In his most immersive installation to date, Heyer creates a multisensory, dream-like realm that combines his ethereal paintings and sculptures with ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) sounds that trigger euphoric feelings in the visitor. Heyer’s work explores out-of-body and psychedelic highs, rooted in his experiences as an active participant of rave and club culture within the LGBTQ community. Chicago Works: Paul Heyer is organized by Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives Omar Kholeif and runs from January 16 through July 1, 2018.

The exhibition is set to a hypnotic, meditative soundtrack with ASMR sounds – popularized in YouTube videos and among subcultures – meant to prompt hypnotic or hallucinogenic feelings in listeners. In this soundscape, Heyer’s large, pastel paintings feature floating figures of cowboys, animals, skeletons, and black holes.

While mostly comprised of paintings—Heyer is inspired by the history of painting, which captured his imagination as a young child—the exhibition also presents his recent sculptural work, including a constellation of brooms that hangs in a circle above the viewer, suggesting a psychedelic fantasy. The brooms are charred matte black, dipped in shiny resin, and adorned with pearlescent shells – a process Heyer describes as dressing the objects in drag. The sculpture is surrounded by airy, opalescent renderings of daytime sky, with written phrases such as “Time Isn’t Real” and “I Am the Sky” suggesting a contemplative, timeless space.

An additional sculpture consists of metallic lamé fabric draped across a bed-like platform in the center of the gallery. The silky material and sheen provide another reference to the opulence of drag culture, and Heyer’s experiences of drug-induced euphoria at night-long raves and dance clubs. Together, the works create a balance between gravity and levity, light and dark, and past and future, prompting viewers to reflect upon an utopian model of the universe.

Paul Heyer, Every Day is Halloween, 2016 Jason Mandella, courtesy of the artist and Chapter-NY


January 16-July 1, 2018


All photos courtesy of the MCA


Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611


Adults - $15

Students, teachers and seniors - $8

MCA members and youth 18 and under - Free!


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