Full text and a short biography below the images


Zoom in on the pyramid 2014 marker on canvas  35x3540x4045x4550x5055x5560x6065x65 2

Wieteke Heldens, Zoom in on the pyramid, 2014, marker on canvas 35x35,40x40,45x45,50x50,55x55,60x60,65x65 cm


Black political points Portrait of a pyramid 60x60 60x60 2014 marker on canvas

Wieteke Heldens, Black political points/Portrait of a pyramid, 2014, marker on canvas 60 x 60 and 60 x 60 cm


My first political painthing 2014oil on canvas  150x100 cm 

Wieteke Heldens, My first political painthing, 2014, oil on canvas 150 x 100 cm


Background in grey 2012 gesso on canvas  200x150cm

Wieteke Heldens, Background in grey, 2012, gesso on canvas 200 x 150 cm


Colored pretext  2014 oil on canvas 200x150cm

Wieteke Heldens, Colored pretext, 2014, oil on canvas, 200 x 150 cm


An other Dry paint 2014 100x150 oil on canas

Wieteke Heldens, An other Dry pain't, 2014, oil on canas 100 x 150 cm


With blue content 2014 marker on paper bag 32.5x40.5cm

Wieteke Heldens, With blue content, 2014, marker on paper bag 32.5 x 40.5 cm


No content 2013 marker on paper bag 40x50cm

Wieteke Heldens, No content, 2013, marker on paper bag, 40 x 50 cm


Text with the duo exhibition Wieteke Heldens & Carlijn Mens

In October 2013 His Majesty King Willem-Alexander presents Wieteke Heldens (*1982) with the prestigious Royal Award for Modern Painting (Koninklijke prijs voor Vrije Schilderkunst). A small selection of her work is exhibited in the Palace on Dam Square. I buy one of her works and we make an appointment for a studio visit in the Schilderswijk in The Hague.

After graduating from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague she spends some time studying in China in order to qualify for an “Artist in Residence” position in de Flux Factory in New York.

Once back in The Hague the call of the big Metropolis proves irresistible and she therefore finds herself commuting between the two cities. And that sense of always being on the verge of departure, is also reflected in how she works. Everything in her studio, which she shares with a colleague, is neat and tidy. There's not much, just the bare necessities.

The studio may have to be emptied tomorrow, no excess baggage in the form of piles of canvases, drawings, paint, brushes, chalk and markers. This craving for a prospective departure affects the way she works.

In New York she was forced to be economical with expensive drawing and painting materials. In exchange for a “Thank You Letter” she was allowed to get free, surplus artists' materials from the MFTA (Material For The Arts) and in her tiny New York studio she used this material until it ran out. For her it becomes a method, an attitude that she maintains - also in the Netherlands - to this day.

Wieteke Heldens paints until the available material runs out, she draws with a marker, almost compulsively repeating the same movement, until it is empty. A brush dipped in paint applies paint until the colour disappears. The brush is then dipped in the paint again, the current drawing continued, the movement repeated. Until the surface is full, all the linen used, the canvas - or the canvases - painted or filled with drawing, the markers empty, the paint used up and the work is finished.

Everything has been used up, everything has been tidied up, tomorrow she will start again ........ or she will leave.

Paul van Rosmalen, Ocober 2014


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 in 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.


Artist Statement Wieteke Heldens


“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 Hanna Darboven or 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.