Perth art-lovers mourn performance painter Heine
Martin Heine with his Painting Graffiti Paradise at Melody Smith Gallery earlier this year. Picture: Pippa Tandy

The sudden death of acclaimed painter and performance artist Martin Heine has left the Perth art world in shock.

Best known in Perth for his dramatic live performances and "reverse paintings", Heine died in Manila on Monday after a short battle with cancer. He was 56.

Based largely in Perth since 1982, Heine divided his time between here, the Philippines and Germany, where he was born on October 13, 1957.

Many of his outrageous paint-splattered dramatic live performances had been held at Northbridge's Kurb Gallery, which he ran for 12 years with author, critic and curator David Bromfield.

Heine's reputation as a painter had blossomed in recent years in Europe, the United States and South-East Asia. He had been in Manila for an exhibition of his latest work.

"Martin was an excellent artist and a thoroughly decent human being on the verge of an international career," Dr Bromfield said.

"He was an artist with very small minority appeal but very dedicated support."

With his reverse paintings, Heine painted from the back of the canvas, pushing colour through holes in the weave, to form a congealed but vivid and arresting pattern of tiny dots.

Heine held many solo shows at international galleries, including the Sydney College of the Arts, the Melbourne Art Fair, Munich Stadtmuseum, the Santo Tomas University Gallery in Manila and the Amica Bunker Sound Space in New York.

In WA, he exhibited at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Gallery East, Kurb and Melody Smith Gallery.

He held a PhD from the University of Sydney and in 1995 he was awarded the Matilda Award for Cultural Excellence in the Visual Arts. His work is held in many prominent public, corporate and private collections worldwide.

"Martin was a multi-talented and intensely committed artist, besides being a great and humorous man," Gallery East director David Forrest said.

Heine is survived by his father and two sisters in Germany and his former wife in Tasmania.

Informal drinks to celebrate Heine's life and work will be held in his studio above the Kurb Gallery 312A William Street, Northbridge, at 3pm this Sunday.

The West Australian

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