Daniel Heyman
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2001

Daniel Heyman's pictures are portraits of people and places assembled from memory and imagination. There is a diaristic intimacy in the juxtaposition of exotic settings, bits of naturalistic observation and quotations of centuries of art-making. Taken individually and together, Heyman's pictures unfold an eclectic sensibility, and the viewer is invited to explore the frenetic richness of the imagery for clues to the narratives they suggest.

The central role of memory in Heyman's paintings has a kinship with the work of Stanley Spencer. Like Spencer, Heyman's pictures express a child-like desire to see the world whole - a world where there is no divide between matter and imagination. The obsessive center of memory and imagination for Spencer is the village of Cookham, and for Daniel Heyman it is a compound of his travels, acquaintances, and the echoes of imagery from a fund of medieval and early Renaissance sources that include the Bayeux tapestry, Piero della Francesca, Simone Martini and Sandro Botticelli.

Heyman's pictures often allude to travel with their vistas of water, winding roads and picturesque cities and this imagery connects to the theme of memory in the sense that feelings and perceptions awakened by travel are only crystalized in recollection. There is a playful and pervasive sense of wonder in the wide world inherent in Heyman's spaces that makes me think of the landscape in early Renaissance painting at the moment when the world was just beginning to reopen to trade and exploration and part of the mission of artists was to imagine this world as backdrop for biblical and mythological dramas. In paintings like "Nancy: A Hero for Right Now!" and "Loss and Reconstruction," the themes of serious play come together: a world is discovered and constructed and a child's yearning for encyclopedic inclusion is connected to an adult feeling for irony and order: The free mixing of cultural quotation and personal experience are evocative of the texture of memory itself. Somehow the world that Heyman explores is less a concrete landscape and more an inner world - a place where memory dissolves and the boundaries of time and space gives weight to its contents according to their emotional importance.