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View of “Paul Heyer,” 2013.

Paul Heyer

Night Gallery

View of “Paul Heyer,” 2013.

Oarfish, a twenty-seven-foot-tall soft sculpture representing the titular deep-sea creature, its silver silk body speckled with sumi-ink brushstrokes, presided over Paul Heyer’s second solo exhibition at Night Gallery. With a rippling, fiber-optic fin that glowed red in the darkened space, the fish was a curiosity among a show that featured fourteen semi-abstract paintings. The serpentlike form was borderline hokey, something you might find in a puppet theater or at a child’s birthday party. Yet the quietly symbolic allure of the fish—a mysterious and rarely seen creature that lives in ocean depths of 3,300 feet and is likely the basis of much sea-serpent lore—seemed a sincere theme for the artist, and its inclusion offered an explicitly figurative reference point for a body of work that shape-shifted between abstraction and representation.

The paintings included in this

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