By Emily Osgood
Charline von Heyl is exploding onto the Worcester art scene in a big way. A prominent artist since the 1980s, she is featured in numerous galleries around the world ~ including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. von Heyl’s work is experimental and vibrant, her style stemming from a modern art movement born at the end of the 20th century that strives to pay tribute to the early abstract artists while fostering newer artists’ ideas and perspectives. Her mural, now gracing the Wall at WAM, is an abstract painting and a representation of a previous WAM painting, Orange White, by Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly’s abstract painting has been on display since the beginning of February in the museum’s new late 20th century galleries.
What started out as a small sketch is now a 17 x 67 feet mural, and that did create some challenges for von Heyl. The production team decided that the best way to create the mural was to divide it into manageable panels. Working with the smaller sections was both physically easier for von Heyl and artistically preferable, allowing her to keep the large painting true to her small sketch.
What may seem like an insignificant structural issue actually has added value for the art lover. The viewer can choose to enjoy the mural as a whole or to take each panel in by itself; each approach creates a different experience. The mural is a twisting array of black strokes, ever-continuing from one side of the painting to the other. The stark contrast between the bright orange and the deep black allows the strokes to pop off the canvas. The opaque orange background also has corners of white seeping through, creating even more contrast and producing a dizzying effect. Certain black strokes even venture onto the white pallet, making the image seem as though it is moving along a chain.
The mural is positioned high above the rest of the main room and is therefore the first thing a visitor to the Museum will see. The stark difference between the modernist mural and the ancient mosaic on the floor directly beneath it reflects the Museum’s commitment to displaying art in all its forms and from many different periods. It also exposes the lover of more traditional art to an example of current trends and encourages exploration of new developments, techniques, forms, and design.
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