The linking rings illusion is a classic magic trick. Two rings are linked together, and then, at a given moment, they are pulled apart. However, the trick remains a mystery: we are left wondering whether there is a hidden mechanism, or whether it is down to the magician’s sleight of hand. It’s no surprise that Robbin Heyker (Leiderdorp, Netherlands, 1976) chose Linking Rings for the name of his second exhibition at Galería Alegría, following Birding (2019) at our Madrid gallery. The artist’s recent output has been fuelled by his two twin passions: magic and birdwatching.
The accomplishment of Heyker’s painting is in the way he interlinks, visually, his abstract forms and the subject at hand. If we only focus on the blocks of colour, forgetting the birds, artifacts and signs, then we’ve missed half the trick. In turn, if we only concentrate on the specific subject and story behind each piece then we are bound to overlook the work’s deeply evocative character, a form of painting that so deftly handles colour, with minimal yet effective composition.
This exhibition revolves around the aforementioned interests of the artist, which are crucial to his production. We see, therefore, paintings that serve to symbolisehis beloved birds; that is, canvases in which the spectator might to recognise the birds from the colours of their plumage alone. We also find paintings that reference the visual games that arise from combining disparate typographical elements.
The linking rings also recall one of the most ancient forms of storytelling: that of ring composition. Derived from the Greek oral tradition, ring composition is about telling a story in a linear way while also including certain digressions, whereby the storyteller veers off from the main plotline and enriches the narrative in the process. This exhibition will have a kind of ring approach; halfway through its run, it will be changed to give way to a different exhibition, thus generating two distinct visual circuits — two linking rings, essentially.
In this impossible balancing act, between what is displayed and what is not, Robbin Heyker has managed to find his own natural space as an artist. Conceptually, the linking rings are just the entry point into a whole new terrain where the spectators, overawed, succumb to that hazy anomaly we call magic.