In the Loop
Faculty News : Jun 8, 2018

First major retrospective of artist and SA+AH professor Richard Heipp

By Sara Han (BA '19)

The Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida, presents Double Vision, Photocentric Paintings by Richard Heipp, 1975-2018, the first major retrospective exhibition by contemporary artist and UF School of Art + Art History professor Richard Heipp. On view from June 2 to August 26, the exhibition surveys 40 years of Heipp’s paintings, drawings and installations.

The exhibition opened with a free, public reception on Friday, June 1. Accompanying the retrospective’s opening, Heipp provided book signings for his new book under the same title as the exhibition. The book contains essays, interviews and over 70 images of Heipp’s works throughout his career. The book will become widely available through the University of Florida Press in July 2018.

Featuring more than 60 of Heipp’s layered and illusory artworks, the retrospective exhibition was curated by assistant curator of the Mint Museum, Adam Justice.

“In this exhibition, you will see paintings pertaining to history, heritage, science and identity,” Justice said. “[Heipp] has created his own unique visual vocabulary that immediately grasps your attention. Yet, once you begin to really look at his paintings, you realize there is something beyond just the visual.”

At first glance of Heipp’s paintings, they appear to be mechanically reproduced or digitally produced images. Upon further close-up inspection, however, you realize they are painted completely by hand.

“A lot of my work focuses around the difference between looking and seeing and how pictures create illusions,” Heipp said.

He categorizes looking as a superficial way in experiencing images, whereas seeing is a more in-depth type of perception that involves contextual understanding. Heipp’s paintings blur the line between reality and imagery, which calls his viewers to contemplate the purpose behind his works.

“I chose the term ‘photocentric’ to describe my paintings as opposed to the generally accepted term of ‘photorealism’ because my contention for my work is not about realism, but about the photograph. It’s about the role that the photograph plays in contemporary culture,” Heipp said.

Heipp has been teaching painting at the University of Florida for 37 years. Additionally, he has previously served as director of the School of Art + Art History, graduate coordinator, area head, assistant director and acting director.

Working on this retrospective exhibition for two years, Heipp hopes that his art provokes thought surrounding contemporary culture and that his message can live on through his book.

“A work of art in its true sense is not complete until it reaches its audience” Heipp said. “When someone looks at it, thinks about it, feels something that comes from it, that’s when I know it’s finished.”