Elizabeth Huey: Hydrotherapy

Heiner Contemporary is delighted to present an arrangement of new, small paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Elizabeth Huey in the gallery's viewing room. Hydrotherapy, which will be on view through August 31, demonstrates Huey's continued investigations into the human psyche and its ever-shifting relationship to community, architecture and nature. The history of psychology and human attempts at manufacturing happiness have long informed Elizabeth Huey's practice. This new work exchanges sanitariums and institutions for resort spas, treatment centers and secluded getaways.

Huey examines communal experiences around bodies of water and the long-held belief in the restorative power of the element. A cursory glance at the artist's water paintings reveals familiar subject matter - bikini-clad women relaxing poolside and swimmers in celebration. However, a quality of unease lurks just beneath the surface in many of the works. The skies and shimmering water, both alluring and daunting, play a prominent role in sustaining a psychologically charged atmosphere. In this setting, the artist is perhaps most fascinated by human gesture and dynamics, how connections are expressed in subtle ways - a sidelong glance or touch.  Social interactions are heightened by scanty attire, emphasizing the subjects' vulnerability, but also their freedom. The distinctive architecture and gestural mark-making are key players in the drama that unfolds in the paintings.  Imagery has been culled from the artist's found photo collection, archival research, and her own photographs, including those from recent residencies in Cape Cod and Miami. Whether subjects are diving or watching wistfully from midcentury hotel rooms, this body of work explores paradoxes of adventure and reserve, connection and isolation, and tension and relaxation.


Born in Virginia, Elizabeth Huey lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her BA in Psychology from George Washington University and studied at both the Marchutz School in France and the New York Studio School before receiving her MFA in Painting from Yale University in 2002. She has received awards such as a Terra Museum Fellowship and Residency in Giverny, France (2001) and an Artist Research Fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution (2008). Recent residencies include a Fountainhead Residency in Miami (2013) and DNA/Freight & Volume Summer Residency in Cape Cod (2012, 2013). Huey's paintings have been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad and are in collections including the Kemper Museum in Kansas City and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.

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