Heath West: Elements of Architecture

Ozeanhaus, 2018 Oil and acrylic on linen, 20 x 17 in.

Ozeanhaus, 2018
Oil and acrylic on linen, 20 x 17 in.


Living and working in Houston, TX, Heath West is a painter interested in architectural space. Before becoming a full-time artist, he completed a Masters in Architecture at Columbia University and worked as an architect. Heath is currently represented by Galleri Urbane in Dallas, TX and has two upcoming solo shows. Interview is between artist and Ty Bishop.

TB: You completed a master’s program in architecture at Columbia, worked as an architect, and now you are a full time artist. This was obviously a huge change for you. What brought this about?

HW: It began with a combination of boredom with the profession of architecture and the will to make art. I thought the practice of architecture would at least be a consistent paycheck while making art after office hours. But as it turns out, the profession is very unstable. Feast and famine, as they say. So maybe I should’ve gone for that MFA in Painting after all. But I really enjoyed architecture school, and the creative thought process behind it.

TB: Your background in architecture is evident in the content of your work. Can you talk about how you come up with the spaces you paint?

HW: I like to think about the elements of an architectural space, floor, walls, windows, etc. as the parameters for compositions. There’s always an interior space, and an exterior space, but the interior will have a threshold in the foreground, either a doorway or a window sill, as a way to layer the spaces and their definitions through line work.

TB: In your recent work, the viewer is looking through a glass door or window to a room with windows. This could seen as voyeuristic, except that there’s nothing in the room to look at. What’s the intention of these di erent type of views?

HW: The intention is show the spaces as diagrammatic and empty, deliberately ambiguous, so many different readings may be interpreted depending upon the viewer’s relationship with color and the buildings that they deal with everyday. As a rule of thumb, I always go with less is more as a starting point.

TB: Color is a major aspect of your work. What considerations do you make when selecting a color palette?

Behrens Haus, 2018 Oil and acrylic on linen, 46 x 36 in.

Behrens Haus, 2018
Oil and acrylic on linen, 46 x 36 in.


HW: Sometimes I’ll start with intuition, go with pink and brown, for example, and stick to those two only. I find the more constraints there are, the more freedom of expression there is, as you’ll know where to go and with what. Then those possibilities are endless, because any of the elements of the composition and the colors of the painting can vary.

TB: What artists have influenced your work?

HW: A combination of painters and architects. A lot of influence is sourced in Philip Guston, John Wesley, Ken Price, Stanley Whitney, Neo Rauch, the Chicago Imagists, Renaissance painters (who always had intimate relationships to architecture in their works), Le Corbusier, Bauhaus architecture, classical Japanese architecture, and the current wave of Japanese and Spanish architects who are designing great small scale buildings with inexpensive materials, OMA et al.

TB: You have two upcoming solo shows at Gallerie Urbane in Dallas and Dillion Kyle Architects in Houston. Anything new we can anticipate seeing in these shows?

Rietveld Schröderhuis, 2018 Oil and acrylic on linen, 60 x 50 in.

Rietveld Schröderhuis, 2018
Oil and acrylic on linen, 60 x 50 in.


HW: Larger works. The paintings have more visual impact at an architectural scale.

TB: This will be your second solo show at Gallerie Urbane. How did your relationship with this gallery come about?

HW: The owner wrote me an email once a couple of years ago, asking if they could take a couple of paintings to the Seattle Art Fair that year. Things began to develop from there, and now we’re preparing for another fair in New York this May, in addition to the gallery helping out with the show at Dillon Kyle, opening May 11.

TB: What advice do you have for artists looking to be a full time artist?

HW: Focus on your work, and put it out there. When your an artist you’re also your own business manager, accountant, and PR person, and try not to let these any of those things have a negative impact on your work. 


Upcoming Shows:

Haus Paintings
Dillon Kyle Architects
1500 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77006
Opening May 11, 2018, 6-8 PM

Galleri Urbane
2277 Monitor St, Dallas, TX 75207
Opening September 2018 

More information: heathwest.net

Ty Bishop