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opening reception: Wednesday, May 8, 6-8pm


Churner and Churner presents “Battle Armor,” an exhibition of new work by Karen Heagle. It is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery.

In her bold and brash large-scale works on paper, Heagle uses gold and copper leaf, acrylic paint and colored paper to depict symbols of masculine pageantry. The works in this series are inspired by Heagle’s research into 17th-century genre paintings, particularly memento mori and vanitas paintings. Like her earlier work, which depicted animal carcasses, fruits, vegetables, and other symbolic props, these vivid paintings are direct confrontations of mortality and sexuality. As a queer artist who grew up in a strict Catholic family, Heagle employs religious imagery to expose a fascination with the forbidden. The bright and iridescent hues and overcharged symbolic content – in this exhibition, peacocks, motorcycles, knights in armor, virgin and child breastplates – recall Pierre and Gilles’ highly stylized photographs. With “Battle Armor,” Heagle connects 17th-century iconography to contemporary practice.


Karen Heagle was born in Wisconsin. She earned her MFA at Pratt in 1995, and attended Skowhegan in 1997. She has had solo exhibitions at I-20 in New York and 31GRAND in Brooklyn. Heagle’s work has been included in group shows at the Weatherspoon Art Museum (2012); Brooklyn Academy of Music (2010); the Deste Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece (2006), among other institutions, as well as recent gallery shows at Allegra LaViola Gallery (2013, 2012) and Invisible Exports, New York. She is included in the forthcoming exhibition “The Power of Paper” at Saatchi Gallery, London. Heagle’s work has been reviewed in The New York TimesArtforumArt in America, Time Out, and The New Yorker, and other publications. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Saatchi Gallery, London; the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens; and the Fundación/Colección Jumex, Mexico City.

“Karen Heagle takes emblems of Medievalism and disarms them with color.”

Holland Carter, “Museum and Gallery Listings for June 14-20”, The New York Times (June 13, 2013).

“It’s the armor and the implicit religious undertones that seem to leap out at me when looking at the work. It’s also the way [Heagle has] been able to rework playing around with gender roles in fantasy or in a fantastic way.”

Liz Insogna, “Fluid Fire”, The Huffington Post (June 12, 2013).

“Heagle treats paper as if it were canvas; her figures and objects rendered life-sized and the application of the various leafing sheets give the work an otherworldly light, such that they call to mind Russian icons or the Northern European devotional triptychs of van Eyck.”

Bradley Rubenstein, “Nights Without Armor”, ArtSlant (June 11, 2013).

“There is the lush opulence of using copper and gold leaf symbolizing the luster of metal where the acrylic paint and colored paper become punctuated embellishments to fully realize Heagle’s bold interpretation. The iridescent palette and its swarthy strokes recall a Peter Max color sensibility but Heagle makes it her own by her crisp execution in the composition.”

Oscar A. Laluyan, “Karen Heagle Is Fully Armed to Battle”, Arte Fuse (May 13, 2013).