Chicago Trips Over a New Psychedelic Exhibit from Artist Paul Heyer

Written by | Art & Design

Heyer paintings

Photos by Jason Mandella

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, located near Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago, boasts a permanent collection with over 2,500 artworks that span media and movements from the 1920s to the present. On January 16 the museum kicks off the city’s first solo exhibition of Chicago-based artist Peter Heyer. The show is set to be a  multisensory, dream-like realm that combines painting and sculpture rooted in Heyer’s experiences while participating in the clubbing/rave culture within the LGBTQ community. The artist incorporates a hypnotic, meditative soundtrack with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) sounds meant to prompt hallucinogenic feelings in listeners. In the background of this soundscape, we see Heyerʼs large, pastel paintings feature floating figures of cowboys, animals, skeletons, and black holes. The exhibition also reveals the artist’s new sculptural work, including a constellation of brooms that hint at a psychedelic fantasy, and a sculpture made of metallic lamé fabric draped across a bed-like platform in the center of the gallery. The material and its sheen share a glimpse into drag culture and Heyerʼs experiences of drug-induced euphoria at all-night raves and clubs.

Paul Heyer was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1982. He trained formally at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, receiving his BA in 2004 and then his MFA shortly thereafter in 2009. His work has been shown at Chapter NY Gallery in New York, Night Gallery in Los Angeles, Park View in Los Angeles, HOME in Manchester, What Pipeline in Detroit, Beautiful Gallery in Chicago, Rodeo Gallery in Istanbul, Tracy Williams Ltd. in New York, Young Art in Los Angeles, ACME in Los Angeles, Rachel Uffner Gallery in New York, and previously at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. He participated in a 2009 Catwalk Artists Residency in Hudson, New York and received a 2009 Andrew Fisher Fellowship.

Last year he landed on Newcity Art’s annual shortlist of artists to “know right now”, pointed out for his joyful, celebratory and generous work. The shortlist announcement lists Heyer’s work as “not bereft or content or worldly engagement, his paintings are nonetheless unabashed aesthetic experiments, exercises in formalism, and ultimately prompts, not responses”. Heyer states “my paintings are fantasies – that’s what makes them queer.”

This exhibition is organized by Erin Toale, Curatorial Assistant, and Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. It is presented in the Dr. Paul and Dorie Sternberg Family Gallery and Ed and Jackie Rabin Gallery on the museumʼs third floor. Additional shows in 2018 include MCA Screen: Paul Pfeiffer through May 20, Endless Summer offering a snapshot of the hedonistic minimalism that emerged in Los Angeles in the 1960s from Jan 27-Aug 5, and the first major survey show of multidisciplinary artist Howardena Pindell from Feb 24-May 20. The MCA’s grounds includes a variety of free spaces featuring both local and international artwork in locations like the Atrium, Commons, Sculpture Garden, Street and Marisol Restaurant. mcachicago.org

Last modified: February 11, 2018