Artist StatementI make paintings using words. I am drawn to the simple poetry of a string of words and paint them to amplify that. I manipulate these words in paint compelling abstract shapes out of their commingling. After art school I was a figurative painter. Letters and words began showing up in my paintings and then replaced the figures entirely with a color-field abstraction comprised of scattered letterforms. I have been working very near to that exploration ever since. I have unlimited source material as we are all surrounded by words, chosen and otherwise. I jot down phrases, things overheard, things that occur to me, and later see if their initial spark of interest carries over into a painting. Something I aspire to do is paint ugly words into abstract shapes, changing how they are perceived and perhaps taking away some of their power, however briefly. Setting up a back and forth conversation between meaning or lack thereof, color, line, form and surface that can be sublime. It can feel very nearly pure. I’d like to think anyone can experience that thru my work. I follow a process that gives me a structure, and thru ongoing experimentation with materials I have formulas and methods that serve as a roadmap of sorts, however it is without any expectation of outcome. All kinds of surprising things happen. Unexpected shapes show up. Patterns can emerge, and the words fade. Where everything is combining and intersecting, these shapes show up. Making unexpected patterns. I’m really struck by the endless variety of shapes, and I’m working with the shapes, pulling them out, reproducing them, enlarging them, making them a dominant element in the painting. I am working with paint that I alter in order to get it workable to my ends. A thicker paint that I carve or a thinned down paint that will soak into the canvas in order to achieve unexpected shapes out of the letterforms. Sometimes it's work, sometimes it's play. That’s where my practice is now. I exert what control I can through the process. I begin a painting with specific words, and a grid with an order to it, but the paint does what it does. I have been making sketches of shapes I find in one word painting and using those as the foundation for the next paintings. The possibilities inherent in that connection are really exciting to me, one piece informing another and on and on.
Gregory Hein is a painter born in Baltimore City who lives and runs his practice in the Washington D.C. Metro area. Hein earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Design from the University of Maryland. His paintings have been exhibited regionally and nationally at galleries and venues including Artscape, Strathmore Hall, Pyramid Atlantic, Torpedo Factory, Athenaeum, Maryland Art Place and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. Sourced in part from serendipity, Hein’s work draws from the simple prose found in short strings of words which depict atypical as well as mundane concerns. Hein fashions colorful, highly textured paintings that echo color-field abstractions built out of those words and aspires to call into question their own substance. Currently Hein is experimenting with paintings in which the words and materials compel abstract shapes to emerge from their admixture. View his current work online at www.gregoryhein.art