Artist Severus Heyn is about to open his first solo exhibition at Liverpool Arts bar and curator, Laura McCann promises it’s going to be to be unlike anything the venue has hosted before.
German artist, Severus Heyn first came to my attention last year when I saw his work on Instagram @queeartisan. Taken by the bold colours and often graphic but beautiful imagery, I knew that I really wanted to work with the artist, all I needed to do was find the right opportunity and of course convince the artist himself.
Fast forward to this month and I’m delighted to say that Sev is about to showcase a collection of his work, curated by me, at the Arts Bar on Hope Street in Liverpool.
Sev has been an illustrator and artist since 2012. Having previously lived in London, Australia, the Netherlands, I asked him what made him move to Liverpool in 2018? Sev told me how he’d quickly, “fallen in love with the city, partly due to its incredibly warm people but also because of the vibrant Queer grassroot arts scene”.
Sev’s first job in illustration was with German vintage fashion magazine ‘Vintage Flaneur’, where he’d also occasionally act as art director on photoshoots. Sev remembers his time there fondly explaining, “The whole team lived on the same street, so I was surrounded by a diverse, creative collective, including painters, poets, and burlesque performers”. I think it’s probably being part of a collaborative artist network like that that’s helped shape Sev’s career and his outlook in general.
Sev’s ethos has always been that, ‘visibility is power’ and he actively participates in his community, continually seeking out opportunities that support other artists. In 2018, he and a host of international artists founded the Queer Art Brunch Club (Q-ABC) with the aim to run artist-centric events to celebrate and empower each other.
In 2021, Sev has added another string to his bow when he unveiled his drag king alter ego “Franz Genau”, the co-founder of the international drag collective, “House of Moustache”. As Franz, Sev regularly performs in cabaret around the UK and Germany and hosts two bi-monthly events in Liverpool; the Queer scratch night, “Spew” which promotes young performers, and “Quiz with the Queers”, a gay ol’ pub quiz night at Sotto. Sev is also currently presenting a four-part radio event called, “Drag Dings” at Melodic Distraction, where he and co-host Dan Chan discuss LGBTQIA+ issues from a comedic drag perspective.
Sev’s art is unapologetically Queer and his illustrations are often explicit but manage to subvert typical expectations of erotica by marrying the subject matter with a pop art style. At first glance Sev’s pieces may seem fun, and they are, but many of them are also inherently political. An example of this is the series of pictures that helped inspire his exhibition; “Consuming me”. The images show parts of the male anatomy supplanted by food items, illustrating how in a capitalist society we are both consumed and consumable and how we often seek to make ourselves more palatable to fulfil this dynamic.
One of the things that attracted me to Sev’s work was the sense narrative, that’s not always easy to convey in art but he seems to continually achieve it. Every character featured in his work seems to elude to a bigger story, almost like movie posters, except it’s up to the viewer to write the plot.
Many of Sev’s pictures depict highly sexually charged situations and explore ideas of taboo, sex conformity, intimacy, and rejection. Some illustrations also highlight the social ideals around body image, by exaggerating proportions to show the absurdity of these expectations and although the works focus on the Queer community, the themes are universally relevant to everyone within a modern consumerist world.
The Arts Bar on Hope Street has always prided itself on being an inclusive safe arts space for all and I am delighted to have their complete support in bringing free arts events like this to the public. Severus Heyn is definitely a name to watch in the arts world and I only hope this is the first of many times I get to work with him.
“Consuming Me” by Severus Heyn, runs from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th of February at The Arts Bar on Hope Street, from noon until 5pm and entry is completely free.
To find out more about the events at The Arts Bar, you can follow them on Instagram and Facebook, or go to Laura’s website Lauramccannphotos.com If you’d like to see more of Sev’s work you can follow him on Instagram @queerartisan