Wieteke Heldens Dutch/American, b. 1982


Wieteke Heldens (*1982) graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2007. She then followed a two-year postgraduate course at DNA, the post-academic studios of the Vrije Academie ('Free' Academy). During this time she exhibited at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, in Switzerland, Belgium and Paris, among others and was Artist in Residence in Chongqing, China. In 2009 she received a project grant from Fonds BKVB (The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts). Since 2010 Wieteke has also been living and working in New York where in 2011 and 2012 she stayed at the Flux Factory as Artist in Residence and exhibited there. She received the Royal Award for Modern Painting (Koninklijke prijs voor Vrije Schilderkunst) in 2013. She currently lives and works in New York.


"I see myself basically as a painter". This position also enables me to deconstruct the painting. Ensure that all that remains has a function. Not, however, from an ideological viewpoint, not from modern abstraction or geometry. It is not possible to make the emotional functional through rigid abstraction or a purely conceptual approach. But I do make use of the conceptual and the abstract approach. I would love to have been On Kawara. But before I can be that, I first have to work my way through these feelings/emotions/thoughts. Actually I always go back to square one.


Each painting is always the first. But I often fall into repetition. I try to make a work so that it is a universal truth. I try to abstract it so that it reveals universal and fundamental structures in place of personal anecdotes. At the same time each work is obsessive and compulsive. I try to apply patterns and mathematical formulas to the things in my head that are "not real" because I don't exactly know what they are. I try to make them concrete and at the same time to generalize them. The triggers are no longer recognizable: after all, I make the work to free myself from them. In "Portrait of a vertical minus" I use a marker until a vertical minus remains, I want to work like a machine but can never achieve perfection. It's about a minus that is not a minus, nor is it a plus, it is a vertical minus and the ink never really runs dry. In "Dry Pain't" I have made the paint drip 347 times. Many layers of paint thrown one over the other. I coincidentally made a work in New York: "Wet Pain't" that is vertical and the drips are running downwards. In that work I indicated the bottom of the drips with blue tape. In this new work the drips are running upwards and I use red paint to indicate the top.