Paul Heyer

About

The MCA presents the first solo museum exhibition of Chicago-based artist Paul Heyer (b. 1982). In his most immersive installation to date, Heyer creates a multisensory, dream-like realm that combines his ethereal paintings and sculptures, which are rooted in his experiences and memories of being an active participant of rave and club culture.

The exhibition is set to a meditative soundtrack meant to prompt hypnotic or hallucinogenic feelings in listeners. In the background of this soundscape, we see Heyer’s large, pastel paintings, which feature floating figures of cowboys and abstract forms.

The exhibition also presents his recent sculptural work, including brooms that hang in a constellation above the viewer, suggesting a psychedelic fantasy, and a sculpture consisting of metallic lamé fabric draped across a bed-like platform in the center of the gallery. The silky material and its sheen provide another reference to both science fiction and the opulence of drag culture.

Together, the works create a balance between gravity and levity, light and dark, and past and future, prompting viewers to reflect upon a utopian model of the universe.

This exhibition is organized by Omar Kholeif, former Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives, and Erin Toale, former Curatorial Assistant, 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 museum’s third floor.

Installation Images

Installation view, Chicago Works: Paul Heyer, MCA Chicago, Jan 16–Jul 1, 2018

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago
Two paintings of idyllic cloudy blue skies hang side by side. One reads "I am the sky" and the other outlines a sleeping dog overlapped with inky paw prints.

Installation view, Chicago Works: Paul Heyer, MCA Chicago, Jan 16–Jul 1, 2018

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago
Two paintings of idyllic cloudy blue skies hang side by side. One reads "every day is halloween" in cursive, the other has two shapes like an "X" and a "Y," like chromosomes.

Installation view, Chicago Works: Paul Heyer, MCA Chicago, Jan 16–Jul 1, 2018

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago
An exterior shot of an art gallery reads "Paul Heyer" in large text with smaller text introducing the exhibit. The gallery is dark, with a large red painting illuminated on the wall.

Installation view, Chicago Works: Paul Heyer, MCA Chicago, Jan 16–Jul 1, 2018

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

Installation view, Chicago Works: Paul Heyer, MCA Chicago, Jan 16–Jul 1, 2018

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago
A darkened gallery features a metallic silver blanket in the foreground and a painting of a cowboy crouching in the background.

Installation view, Chicago Works: Paul Heyer, MCA Chicago, Jan 16–Jul 1, 2018

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

Funding

Generous support for Chicago Works: Paul Heyer is provided by the Sandra and Jack Guthman Chicago Works Exhibition Fund, Night Gallery, Chapter NY, and Susie L. Karkomi and Marvin Leavitt.