At Art Paris, Artist Heikedine Günther Uses a Meticulous Painting Process to Explore Her Own Sense of Self

Artem-Reich presents a solo show of the German-born, Basel-based artist’s work at the fair.

Heikedine Günther in front of one of her “Kernpaintings.” Courtesy of Artem-Reich.

For its turn at this year’s Art Paris fair, Swiss gallery Artem-Reich is presenting a solo show of paintings, prints, and sculptures by German-born, Basel-based artist Heikedine Günther.

Artem-Reich is gallery based in Stalden, a small town in southern Switzerland. It’s included among the 36 galleries of the fair’s Solo Show sector, in which booths are devoted to works by one person, as the name suggests.

Heikedine Günther, Kern No.257 (2017). Courtesy of Artem-Reich.

Günther was born in East Westfalia, Germany in 1966. She studied at Manhattanville College in New York, the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, and was mentored by Martin Kippenberger. She lived and worked for 18 years in Berlin before relocating to Basel in 2009, where she lives now.

With their floating oblong blobs of color, Günther’s paintings are reminiscent of Ron Gorchav’s own abstract canvases. For her, the forms are symbolic of the kern, a German word that translates to “core.” It has two meanings: a core like a seed, the origin of organic growth; and a core of a person—one’s psychological sense of self.

Heikedine Günther, Kern No. 288 (2017). Courtesy of Artem-Reich.

Günther has been working on her “Kernpaintings” for nearly 15 years now and has done so with remarkable consistency, executing each with the same type of materials and techniques. She primes all her canvases in gold then applies three to seven layers of translucent paint and fixing agents atop them. The artist uses wide brushes and strictly horizontal movements, and she documents each step of her process on the back of every canvas along with the date, measurements, and her signature.

All of Günther’s other works, from her sculptures to her prints, are related to the “Kernpaintings.” A series of monotype prints, for instance, documents each layer of the paintings. She lays a thin sheet of organic paper on the freshly painted canvas, then massages it with her hand. Her sculptures, on the other hand, look like three-dimensional manifestations of the seeds in her paintings, but broken open. Concentric layers of colored foam surround a painted wooden center, revealing the true core. Examples of both series of work are included in the artist’s Art Paris presentation.

Heikedine Günther, Kern No. 365 (2018). Courtesy of Artem-Reich.


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