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Eyes on the City: Drawings by Susanna Heller and Karlis Rekevics

Curated by Karen Wilkin

Susanna Heller, “Untitled,” 2020, mixed media and collage on paper, 8 ½ x 6 inches; Susanna Heller, “Untitled”, n.d., mixed media and collage on paper, 9 x 12 inches; Karlis Rekevics, “Broad Ordinary Occasions #6,” 2020, charcoal and gesso on paper, 51 1/2 x 51 1/2 inches

New York Studio School is pleased to present Eyes on the City: Drawings by Susanna Heller and Karlis Rekevics, curated by Karen Wilkin, on view June 8 – July 16, 2023. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 8, 6-8pm.

Susanna Heller and Karlis Rekevics can be described as connoisseurs of the gritty, expedient aspects of urban imagery: unexpected views, neglected corners, utilitarian infrastructure, and more. Heller, who died in 2021, was an indefatigable pedestrian. Rapid drawings made on her walks became the basis of energetic paintings, with another extreme perspective added by a residency at the World Trade Center. At the end of her life, she drew the city from her window, contrasting expansive distance with pitiless self-portraits. During Covid restrictions, Rekevics, whose site-specific sculptures reinvent the built environment, daily walked miles under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway from his home to his studio. He distills his observations of the elevated structure into generous, high contrast drawings, conflating light, shade, and steel into images as firmly constructed as his sculptures. This exhibition contrasts Heller’s casual notations, installed as they were in her studio, with Rekevics’s refined, graphic improvisations on brute functionalism.


Born in New York and raised in Montreal, Susanna Heller (1956–2021) was a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia, before moving to New York in 1978, becoming a Brooklyn resident in 1981. She made the urban landscape, especially of New York City, the basis of her expressionist paintings and exhibited frequently, in both solo and group shows, in New York and elsewhere in the U.S., as well as Canada and Europe. She showed regularly at Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, and had exhibitions at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the London Museum, London, Ontario; along with the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan, and the Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands. Heller’s work is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Her thirty-foot mural Restless Prowling from Night to Day Break is installed in the Toronto Dominion Centre – Mies van der Rohe. Among other awards, Heller received several Canada Council Grants, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a residency at Yaddo, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.

Born to Latvian-American parents in Harrogate, UK, Karlis Rekevics (b. 1963) was raised in Rome, Baghdad, Athens, and Seattle, because of his architect father’s projects. An alumnus of the New York Studio School, he settled in New York in 1997. Rekevics’s site-specific sculpture and drawings, responses to overlooked aspects of the city, have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum at Altria, PS 1, the Sculpture Center, and the DUMBO Arts Festival, all NY; the Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; and Sculpture Key West, FL; among other US venues, as well as museums and galleries in Cēsis, Daugavpils, and Dubulti, Latvia, and Berlin, Germany. He has been awarded residencies at Triangle Arts Association, Yaddo, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Mark Rothko Center, Daugavpils, and had temporary public sculptures commissioned on Staten Island and in New Jersey and Oregon. He is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the Latvian National Museum of Art, the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation, and the Deutsche Bank.

Press Release


Medrie MacPhee’s essay “Susanna Heller: In Memoriam,” a recollection of Susanna Heller’s work and friendship.

Related Press

In memory of Susanna Heller: A conversation with Mira Schor, Nancy Bowen, Medrie MacPhee,” Two Coats of Paint, June 15, 2023


Wednesday, June 7, 6-8pm ET

Join us for a book launch of Susanna Heller, Beyond Pain: The Last Drawings (Amsterdam: Studio Dumas, 2023), which features texts by Liane Heller, Suzanne Styhler, Jetteke Bolten-Rempt, Marlene Dumas, Jan Andriesse, Susanna Heller, and Matthew Teitelbaum. Remarks will be live-streamed on Instagram Live starting at 6:30pm.

Thursday, June 8, 6-8pm ET

Join us for a reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibition!

Selected Works

Installation Views

Snapshots From NYSS

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