“Amazingly, I was a citizen of the West and the East at the same time. Looking at it in a self-critical or humorous light, you could say I was the Wall Jumper.”
Gabriel Heimler was born in Paris in 1964. He grew up in France and with his grandparents in Hungary. Heimler studied art in Paris before moving to Halle in East Germany, then in 1988 to West Berlin. His painting “Mauerspringer” (The Wall Jumper) addresses the possibility of overcoming borders.
Gabriel Heimler in the interview
Heimler’s painting “Mauerspringer” (The Wall Jumper) shows a man jumping across the Berlin Wall from West to East Berlin. To Heimler, however, the direction of the jump was less significant than the idea of surmounting the wall. The man in the painting symbolizes the possibility of transcending borders. He perhaps also reflects the artist’s own biography: Heimler has French and Hungarian nationality and lived in East and West Berlin. The artist often crossed international borders in Europe.
Heimler was raised a Jew in France and Hungary. He studied art at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and first exhibited his paintings when he was 18. In 1988 he settled in West Berlin and became internationally known for his painting “Mauerspringer” (The Wall Jumper) in the East Side Gallery. In the early 1990s he founded Berlin’s first post-war Jewish artist group, Meshulash, and is editor of the Jewish magazine Golem. Confronted with antisemitism even in Berlin, he moved to New Zealand in 2010.