Apollo Magazine

In the studio with… Angela Heisch

The Brooklyn-based artist has found that becoming a mother has completely transformed the way she works

Angela Heisch in her studio in Brooklyn. Photo: Matthew Herrmann; © Angela Heisch

The New Zealand-born, Brooklyn-based artist Angela Heisch takes inspiration from organic forms and patterns in nature for her luminous, abstract paintings. Often featuring repeated motifs that resemble planetary orbs, plant-life and waves of energy, her works appear shifting and multi-dimensional. Her solo exhibition ‘Low Speed Highs’ at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London (24 March–29 April) includes her largest paintings to date, accompanied by pastel drawings.

Where is your studio?

My studio is in Bushwick, Brooklyn – about a 10 minute drive from my house.

Do you work alone?

I have one, sometimes two assistants. They come and go depending on how busy things are. I have worked with assistants for the last few years – it’s a massive help with prepping surfaces.

Do you follow a routine in the studio?

I do. I love routine. It’s changed a bit lately because I had a baby a few months ago. Everything is changing with that. I generally get [to the studio] in the early morning and I just sort of start painting. I like to clean up and get everything ready for the next day the night before.

A Break in the Clouds (2022), Angela Heisch. Photo: Matthew Herrmann; © Angela Heisch

Do you listen to anything while you’re working?

I listen to podcasts. I’ve started to listen to music again, but it’s strange, I find music distracting whereas podcasts I can just zone in and out – pointless chatter really helps me to keep focus during the monotonous parts of painting. I’m so sucked into true crime podcasts – it’s such a cliché!

What’s the most well-thumbed book in your studio?

There’s a book called The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing by James Elkins – over the course of the last 10 years, I keep returning to it. I also have a metaphysical book of art that I have been flipping through recently and a Tullio Crali book that I love. I also just got The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones – it’s a book of templates of ornaments throughout history.

Photo: Matthew Herrmann; © Angela Heisch

Does anything that frustrate you about your studio?

There’s someone who I think does weight-lifting upstairs – there’s the sound of grunting and weights [being dropped] on to the floor. It’s very minor though – everything else is great!

Is anything (or anyone) banned?

I don’t think so. I’ve learnt my lesson from open studios, which is not to open the studio to just anybody. In certain neighbourhoods in Brooklyn they have a lot of open studios – I always feel like a jerk for saying ‘absolutely not’. But the idea of anyone coming into the studio with me being there…

Blue Wind (2023), Angela Heisch. Photo: Matthew Herrmann; © Angela Heisch

Who has been your most memorable visitor?

It might be because I have a bit of baby fever right now, but it has been so cool having my baby in the studio. Before I had a baby, I thought these parts of my life had to be really separate, but she’s able to pick up on the big shapes and colours in the paintings which feels so meaningful. It’s a crazy feeling of completion.

‘Angela Heisch: Low Speed Highs’ is at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London from 24 March to 29 April.

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