Alex Diamond Studio
Okay, this may need some more explanation. And not everybody has to love it. But it makes total sense, you'll see.
Continue reading below.
Well. This was the reason why we called ourselves an “artspace” right from the start in 2002, remember? "A place where art is not only shown, but also created", that is part of our first mission statement from over 15 years ago. And don't forget: when Jörg Heikhaus opened heliumcowboy, it was originally intended to be his artist studio. How and why that changed and quickly turned into an internationally acclaimed gallery you can read below. It is a longer story ...
At the beginning of 2018 we felt that it is the right time to bring the two together again, and let Jörg Heikhaus aka Alex Diamond move back into the space with parts of his studio. (Not the woodshop. That stays where it is. Too much dirt and dust.).
Don’t worry, there is still enough wall and floor space for shows with other artists. It just get’s a more personal experience and hopefully feels like you are visiting a good friend when you come down to the heliumcowboy Ranch. Because we want to interact and engage on different level with you, with the art world being so oversaturated these days.
There is a lot that can happen in a space like this. Don't see this as an artist studio with additional walls for shows. Or a gallery with an artist workspace and podcast sudio.
See it as a chance to change the experience of art.
In Jörg's own words:
"The photo left was the first portrait of me taken at the brand new heliumcowboy artspace in Sterntraße 4 in Hamburg. Behind me are some good ol’ stupid oil (!) paintings I did back then. Initially I rented that place as a workshop for me as an artist, but once I’ve moved in I quickly decided that though it was a really great studio, it was at least equally perfect for making exhibitions.
And that’s what I wanted to do then: create my own art AND make shows with other artists in the same place! I started out by inviting friends to exhibit there, but quickly moved on to finding exciting, upcoming national and international artists and brought them to my little gallery space in Hamburg St. Pauli.
However … doing my own art became more and more difficult. Running a gallery is very time-consuming and requires a lot of energy and passion. And because heliumcowboy was becoming this insane success story it drove my personal art right out of the artspace, and eventually led to the “birth” of Alex Diamond in 2004. It was an anonymous stand-alone art project I created to be able to still continue my art, but outside of everything else.
I explained the background of this to the lovely Maximilane Meissner in 2012, when she was writing for the infamous MODART magazine and the NoNewEnemies-network.
Good reading if you want to learn more about the development of the Alex Diamond-project."
(scroll below or click here)
When the fictional personae of Alex Diamond first appeared on the art scene back in 2004, it was part of a performance piece: A detail of a conceptual exhibition Joerg Heikhaus, artist and owner of heliumcowboy art space, was showing at his gallery in Hamburg. Little did he know that he could create such a hype around an anonymous artist.
“I came up with the character of Alex Diamond, when I was creating the work for the show in 2004. It was different compared to most of the stuff I had done as an artist before, so I felt I needed to introduce a fictional character. Someone, who would become a part of the story I‘ve been telling in my work. I understood that it was the story of someone else, so I came up with the Name: Alex Diamond.
“At the opening, I was dressed as some kind of pimp. A person that may be the artist behind these works and at first I played the role of Alex Diamond myself. It was pretty obvious for everyone there to see who was behind it all, and at this point I didn’t have the intention to keep it a secret.
“But the name stuck. Alex Diamond. And after that it became a project.
“After several exhibitions, when I started taking the project abroad, Alex Diamond and me started to separate. I wasn’t dressing up anymore when presenting the work and Diamond became a true fictional character: Genderless and faceless.
„Alex Diamond “Being also the gallerist of Diamond’s work, I started to see his character as an experiment: What happens when the art market doesn‘t know the person behind the work? What if there is no vita? Nothing to tell about the past of a human being? Nothing that may explain the art or help build an artist-celebrity-identity?“
“Knowing that the success of an artist is very dependent on the personae of the artist and the possibilities to build a brand around it, would this approach even work?
“I started to explore this further in the project ‘Being Alex Diamond’ (2007 – 2010). It became an intense visual and conceptual dialogue about questions identity. The power of the ego in a generation that knows only very few boundaries when presenting their personalities. The need of the society for some kind of ‘celebrity culture‘, social role models, and a sort of natural schizophrenia as well.
“I traveled with a furry mask with tentacles coming out of it‘s massive hairy head, that was based on drawings of mine. I arranged photo shoots with very different people wearing it, and thus becoming and acting out their own image of Alex Diamond in front of the camera.
“At the end of 2009 the artwork was published in a book (Verlag Gudberg, Hamburg). The book was my official project report; the exploration of the main idea. And it proved a point, I wasn‘t sure I could make, when it all started: Yes, it is possible to establish an artist that doesn‘t actually exist. Despite the lack of support I can usually give my artists. Despite the need to work undercover and having to cancel invitations where I couldn’t keep my identity a secret. Despite always making a huge effort trying to work in total anonymity… I‘ve been able to build a strong base of followers and collector‘s and a unique artist brand.
“And besides all that, I‘ve created a body of work that seemed to hit a nerve and means something. Something that I very much enjoyed making.
“In early 2010 I turned to a new technique and started woodcarving: Taking the themes and styles to a different medium. I also turned away from anonymity. There was no reason for it anymore.
“After taking away the dark curtain of anonymity last year, I felt a little sad but mainly relieved. I feel free again, and spend much more time in the studio, working on things I couldn‘t even think of doing behind the mask.
“From now on, I am Alex Diamond.”