Hampstead artist’s 20 year project follows in footsteps of William Blake


- Credit: Archant

Colin Heinsen tells Annie Muir about his new exhibition, A Journey within the Heart of the Soul.

Up a stepladder in a sunny Hampstead gallery, I found 57-year-old artist Colin Heinsen preparing for his latest exhibition.

A Journey within the Heart of the Soul at the Shamineh Art Gallery and Cafe is a preview of a larger scale project he’s been working on for nearly 20 years.

It features small, black and white artists’ proofs reproduced from 60 large-scale frescoes which he is planning to finish and put on sale by the end of this year.

The Belsize Park artist says the exhibition is about celebrating the inner joy of the spirit and the titles of the paintings create “not so much of a story as a journey.”

“It very much follows in the footsteps of William Blake, who’s a real hero of mine,” he adds.

“It comes from the heart rather than from an intellectual level.

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“I think a lot of modern art has become too conceptual. These days you need a concept to understand a straight line – it’s gone to an extreme.”

“Art” says Heinsen “should give joy and celebrate the beauty of creation, that pure quality.”

“I’ve had people come in this morning who told me they felt a very peaceful and relaxed atmosphere, and perhaps that’s how art should work. It should make you relax and feel content rather than being too challenging.”

Heinsen recalls visiting the area as a boy with his mother and telling her, “I want to live in Hampstead.”

He would later study at Hornsey College of art before settling in NW3 30 years ago but describes his real teachers as Renaissance artists Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Raphael.

“In traditional art education, you’d always choose an artist and copy their work. It’s a really great activity: not a thinking activity, but a looking and recording one. The key is clarifying your favourite artists and letting them become your teachers, and then you will find yourself developing your own technique.”

Almost every inch of wall space at the small gallery in Carnegie House, New End, has been covered with Heinsen’s joyful creations.

So there is absolutely no potential for gloom.

A Journey Within the Heart and the Souruns until June, open 7 days a week.