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Steven Heffer is indubitably a Modernist — a painter who is directly related to the main current of the Modern Movement. now being challenged by many artists who would prefer to be labelled Post Modernists. In this sense Heffer can be regarded as a direct descendant of John Piper, who also managed to keep a foot in both traditions. Like Piper, he has managed to keep a foot in both camps. His pictures at first glance, seem to be entirely abstract. It is only when one looks at them more closely that one begins to think that they possess what one might metaphorically call representational bones.
Works that tend to negotiate the gap between the purely abstract compositions and those that are recognisable depictions of the world the artist shares with the spectator are the works that contain what, in a very broad sense, can be called representations of architecture. The horizontal and vertical components of man-made creations prompt the artist to create compositions that can be read alternatively as abstract or figurative. They contain no overt element of the romantic.
What Heffer does seem to romanticise is not what he finds on land, but in the sea. His studio is near Eastbourne, and among his most frequent subjects are the white cliffs of the South Downs, plunging directly into the English Channel.
Heffer prefers the sea when it is at it calmest, serving as a mirror to the chalk cliffs that border it. His play of reflections is in fact a constant and important element of his work, the constant movement of shifting planes, that invites the spectator to look, then look again. Every time you gaze at one of these subtle compositions, you tend to see it just a bit differently, the various simple shapes from which they are built have a constantly shifting, unstable relationship to one another. By inviting, or even forcing, the spectator to `see the world differently', Heffer very much belongs to the High Modernist tradition.
bear stories - Steven Heffer