“Lime green” is one of five visual contexts that Paul Heyer uses to explore the influences of varying light in the “Beach,” a painting series that makes up part of his new show The Sun Can’t Compare at Night Gallery. Each of these works features an array of sea shells attached to a canvas dominated by a unique shade or texture entirely different from the others. Although the subject is the same in all five paintings, shells strewn across a comparably sized area of beach, Heyer here assumes the mantle of a postmodern Impressionist in letting starkly different light and color themes imbue each one with a distinctive emotional content of its own.
“Beach (lime green)” has the natural color of unpainted shells stand out against an idyllically bright, summery background. In another variation, “Beach (sandy),” the shells look like markers on a treasure map. A close viewing of “Beach (gold)” reveals pink, green, and white spots peeking through the monochromatic wash that envelops the picture. The lacquered surface effect of “Beach (black)” makes the shells look like clustered celestial bodies in a nighttime sky. And in “Beach (lava)” the shells might be post-apocalyptic ruins amid the textural turmoil of the uneven, iridescently earth-toned paint surface.
In addition to the “Beach” series, The Sun Can’t Compare also includes a half-dozen “Snow” paintings, each one bearing witness to a snowy sky in differently colored light conditions. Two “Shell Interior” pictures imagine that invisible realm illuminated in contrasting pale swirls and streaks.
The minimalist effect of these Heyer paintings is well complemented by Katie Sinnott’s accompanying architectural installation, “Home Fire,” which occupies a single room in the gallery with a deceptive atmosphere of pure stillness.
➲ The Sun Can’t Compare runs through November 9 at Night Gallery, 2276 East 16th Street. The gallery is open from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.