The two figures in this painting were inspired by the mythological heroes of Homer's The Iliad, Achilles and Hector. The artist read the epic poem while on the road, becoming obsessed with the author’s imaginative descriptions that personify nature. This composition is designed to have multiple interpretations; it is both a battle between light and shadow, and a depiction of the land’s memory of an ancient battle.
The artist’s work explores the relationship between the land and humankind, playing on viewers' natural inclination to see themselves in nature. This way of seeing is against the Western conception of the land as separate from humanity which is charged with dominion over it. Seeing aspects of ourselves in nature, Heymans hopes, can help remind us of the personal, meaningful and mystical connection we have with the land we inhabit. Rather than distinct and separate from us, it should feel as close to us as our own bodies.
About the influence of her childhood on her work, Heymans says: "Growing up, my sister and I spent most of our time outside. We explored every inch of our family farm, playing and imagining what took place on the land before we lived there. Were there any bloody battles? Did a mammoth ever sleep there, did a forest ever grow? I’d wonder how many stories were embedded into the land. How many people had loved it?
"Does [the land] hold something of us, a piece of us? ... [A]nd even more so, does it still feel any connection to us? Does a river carry within it any semblance of a man? Can a pond rest with the countenance of a sleeping girl? Do the rocks of the badlands hold a memory of the violence committed there? These paintings are not an attempt to personify the land, they are more of an exorcism."
Sophia Heymans’ landscape paintings explore the relationship between the land and humankind, playing on viewers' natural inclination to see themselves in nature. The artist embeds natural materials directly onto her canvases to achieve an archival-like quality—employing a non-dominant perspective that directly confronts the lexicon of historical American landscape artworks. Heymans' paintings explore her childhood memories of playing outdoors with her sister, evoking the meaningful and mystical connections that can be forged with the lands we inhabit and the stories embedded there.
Sophia Heymans was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1989. The artist received a BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island in 2012.
Solo exhibitions of Heyman’s work include: I’ll Not Contain You at The Valley in Taos, New Mexico (2022); and Afterimage at the Whitney Gallery in Saint Cloud, Minnesota (2021).
Group exhibitions that have shown Heymans’s work include: Rewilding at Nino Mier Gallery in Los Angeles, California (2021); The Scenic Route at 1969 Gallery in New York City (2021); The Lonely Ones, curated by Katelyn Eichwald at Fortnight Institute in New York City (2021); and Refugia, curated by Amelia Biewald at the Royal Society of American Art in Brooklyn, New York (2020).
Heymans lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
The two figures in this painting were inspired by the mythological heroes of Homer's "The Iliad", Achilles and Hector. The artist read the epic poem while on the road, becoming obsessed with the author’s imaginative descriptions that personify nature.More