I paint the reality of the Southern California environment: how structures once revered for their groundbreaking ideas in design and social planning have been perpetuated and how they have been forgotten.
Primarily focusing on the area’s mid-century identity, I play with lighting, dramatic angles, and particular colors to form engaging paintings that also capture specific design elements. Anchored in photo-realism, I study the dynamic forms of my subject matter, finding a common thread between the graceful lines of a Modern house, the chrome bumper of a vintage car, and a classic piece of mid-century furniture. In this, I not only capture, but expose, an American culture often overlooked and undervalued in a world that emphasizes constant change.
Going further, one gets the sense that these paintings are scenes, reminiscent of sets where a deeper narrative might be taking place. While meticulously rendered, they display a sense of overall staging, alluding to some action that might have taken place or is about to. This suggests that as objectively as I document these spaces, perhaps there’s more going on under the surface.
Growing up with the suburban post-war tract homes and classic car scene of the San Fernando Valley, Danny Heller’s artwork has come to focus on mid-century American imagery, specifically the architecture, design, and car culture found in Southern California.
Working in an almost photo-realistic style, Heller’s paintings display a palette not only reflecting the bright, airy California atmosphere, but also the harsh shadows characteristic of the region’s beloved noir imagery. With great attention to detail, his paintings are as much a celebration of mid-century design as they are a foreboding documentation of structures under constant threat of vanishing.
Heller’s paintings have been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the world, from Paris to Los Angeles, with work included in the collections of the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Palm Springs Architecture and Design Center, and the Fondation Colas, Paris. The artist currently resides in the Coachella Valley and is represented by the George Billis Gallery.