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Born in Oban, Argyllshire, Scotland in 1945, Euan Heng worked in various occupations, including four years travelling the world as a merchant seaman, before enrolling at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, Scotland in 1970. He had completed his diploma in art and post-graduation qualifications by 1975. In 1977 he came to Australia which has been his home base ever since. He completed a Masters in Research from R.M.I.T, Melbourne, and has most recently held a position as Adjunct Associate Professor in Fine Art at Monash University, Melbourne.
Heng has been a prolific exhibitor having held thirty five solo exhibitions in Australia, Italy and Scotland since 1973. He has participated in over seventy curated group exhibitions in Australia and internationally and his works are held in many public institutions throughout Australia and overseas. Heng has held visiting artist/lectureships including the Australia Council Residency at the British School in Rome in 1999, and a Royal Scottish Academy Residencies for Scotland in 2010. In 2004 he was awarded the Australia Council for University Art and Design Schools Distinguished Research Award.
Heng’s work is characterised by formal lines, flat surfaces, vivid colours and a stylised sense of unity. His paintings are figurative and narrative driven but they are not naturalistic. An abstract and conceptual aesthetic informs his picture making. In the artist’s words: "The work evolves by echoing the observed world - reality referenced - however, the work is obviously and intentionally artificial - it is not predetermined by concept but will have as a starting point something seen, possibly heard or even remembered and, images may derive serendipitously from a motif of text, discovered or uncovered..."
Heng’s paintings rarely contain more than two figures - mostly they are just the one figure, and when that figure is male it tends to be a projection of the artist himself. In the way that his figure or figures occupy the picture plane a sense of formality and resignation is evoked. His characters are bemused, beguiled, or betwixt - they project a gaze which as observed by Kit Wise (senior lecturer in the faculty of Art and Design, Monash University, Melbourne) is both looking in and looking out (echoes): "....for an artist such as Heng, this duality of sight as both source finder and signifier feeds directly into the visual realm that he constructs. His images manifest the formal poetry found by a trained eye, at the same time as they emit the radiance of emotive, corporeal looking”. Heng’s work is, to quote Wise again: ".....imbued by a desire (or conceit?) to retrieve the image and to harness it with an individual vision, an experience of the world, somewhere between what is seen and the imagination and hopefully - a poetic dimension."
Heng’s paintings, deceptively simple looking, are beautifully finished artificial constructs fashioned through the hands of a highly trained artist and poet. They are informed with a restless intelligence, a sensitive and philosophical yearning; but most of all they are presented as starting off points. The viewer is invited to engage with them, think about where they may be heading and enjoy them for all their freshness, quirkiness and beauty.