a mannerism


There is plenty in Julie Heffernan’s paintings to delight a traditionalist — and to offend a modernist.

Ms. Heffernan, currently on view at P.P.O.W, is a shameless virtuoso, deploying extraordinary, painstaking and yet unforced skill in descriptions of flora and fauna, and of feminine flesh,. Her display of technique is as wanton as the still-life motifs she piles on: Typically, in images that reek of opulence and overload, a comely young woman is nude but for a fantastical skirt composed of a pyramid-like mound of foul, game, fruits, jewelry, and flowers.

There is an old master look to these highly wrought works, generally around 6-feet high by 5-feet, which is beyond mere quotation or irony. . The specific points of reference are geographically and historically diverse, from Northern Renaissance to French Rococo, although the median look is Baroque. But they do not seem to be opting for anachronism per se. The use of old painterly languages is less tongue-in-cheek than hand-on-heart — a means of accessing a dreamlike space of high imagination.

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