The Boiler Room project is a collaborative international platform of artistic and critical exhibition located in the basement of the same building as Galeria Jaqueline Martins in Brussels. Hosting four guests per year, the project creates opportunities for like-minded galleries to insert themselves into a larger, international context, at the same time providing the Belgian public and that of neighboring countries a chance to access artists and galleries that would normally be out of reach.
Paul Heintz was born in Saint-Avold in 1989, he lives and works in Paris.
Paul Heintz develops a body of work based on film and video that oscillates between documentary and fiction, and in which a sense of realism is introduced by the characters or actors themselves. Without imposing predefined readings, the artist weaves stories into open narratives around societal issues. Relationships to authority and submission to power are recurring themes in his work, which is characterized by a distanced and poetic approach.
In the suburbs of Shenzhen, the Dafen Oil Painting Village is renowned for its peculiar industry: that of the replica of paintings. In order to understand what art represents for the copyist artists working there, Paul Heintz begins in 2017 a correspondence made of paintings and drawings with one of them, Wang Shiping. Alongside these exchanges, he also developed a visual production around three lines: the actual correspondence, a film and a series of “para-paintings”. These three lines result in the project Shānzhài Screens (literally “copied screens”).
“I became interested in a city like Dafen because it links painting and industry, painting and crafts. The painting of copies of various references is the main activity of the city. Painting, painted images are produced here but they are not part of artistic endeavors. The paintings don’t amount to artworks, they are images for the images sake, mainly dedicated to decoration. The production of images is fast and in great numbers for reasons of economy and profitability. It is as if the capitalist machine had devoured paintings, and with painting all its gestures. This is precisely what interpelates me: the link between painting, gestures and serial production, of paintings made like mass produced objects.
In this context, what remains of the painting? Old-fashioned historical images, simulated gestures, old bohemian dreams that politicians try to update, here as elsewhere, to better sell the territory through positivist tourism and entertainment.
After having walked the streets of Dafen for a month, it seemed to me that what was most interesting (most important) was a little bit next to the paintings, right on the edge, physically and conceptually.
I call this margin “para-painting”: a place that brings together gestures, words, actions, “side” ideas but above all traces. These marks on the margins of the canvases that painters use to make the right mix of colors, these additional palettes, these ingenious crafts made up of elements from hazardous and various sources to serve the act of painting, these accumulations of matter and objects (crust of dry paint, chassis, frames, tests, brushes and solvents await…).
This para-painting interests me because I have the impression that through this economy of copy painting it is one of the only pockets of creativity and spontaneity… often relevant because it resists productivism and it is unintentional.
From the second month in Dafen I decided to harvest these little things. In the absence of an identifiable owner, I would pick them up in the street, I would ask unknown painters I had come across at random about my drifts, and I even bought one.
My interest in these objects greatly intrigued the painters of Dafen because these traces are often the waste of that city’s copy painting industry. During these harvest moments, people stared at me more than usual, curious about my intentions, because my gaze did not rest on the clean and taut canvases, the well painted patterns intended for sale. ”