I make paintings, painthings and paintthings. I am consistently inconsistent. In my work I turn personal anecdotes into abstract concepts. For me, Hanne Darboven and On Kawara are great examples. In my work I always use personal experiences and thoughts. I turn these into abstract concepts. I actually make all my work according to a self-devised algorithm. I see paintings as an algorithm. I give myself instructions based on a starting position and work towards a desired result. It is my way of trying to get a grip on everything that is happening around us.

On the face of it I make abstract, conceptual works. But each work is at the same time personal. Formats and (self-made) rules are the point of departure, but the impossibility of switching off feelings, thoughts and emotions ensures that the paintings do not become too generalized and detached. I work in a conceptual way with a sense of perspective.

A recurrent theme in my work is stopping and then starting again. I strive for an almost healing inner awareness. This leads to a plastic interpretation in which the liking for order and structure is played by coincidence and sensitivity.

With Colored Content²

In “With Colored Content²” I am also showing work I made during an artist-in-residency in Turin. As the title indicates, it is a multiplication of the presentation in Turin: “With Colored Content, never apologize and never explain”. Never apologize and never explain is a motto from Carl Andre that Hanne Darboven often used. I try to follow this motto. It is an installation of drawings and a Legend. I color in pages from three Italian books: a book of Japanese cookery, an encyclopedia and a book on Italian art. The drawings refer to a Legend.

I shall be showing my recent Content drawings that I made in New York and in Turin, entirely in the tradition of Arte Povera. The Content drawings are paper packaging bags that have been cut open and the content removed. I give the bags a new content and meaning by drawing all of the bag's creases. This meditative act also gives the drawing the third meaning of the word content.

In my “Legends” paintings I show all my colors present in my studio at the time of making. I give the colors a number as if in a legend, a caption. At the same time it is a narrative of all the colors. The colors form a story. I see all the colors separately and without shape and thereby make a new reality. I show all the colors I have, separately as purely and directly as possible. This means I can then mix into a new story. Colors are gained and colors are lost. I have made them at various times in my studio in New York and The Hague and also in Turin and South Korea. In each new place I have to make a Legend with the colors I have. I often give the “Legends” a weight in order to personalize the canvas and make it realistic. Something becomes reality when it is given weight.  

Wieteke Heldens,
New York, February 2017

Wieteke Heldens (1982, Ottersum) graduated from the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, in 2007. Among other places she has exhibited in the Haags Gemeentemuseum, in Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Denmark, South Korea and the United States and has worked in Chongqing, China. Since 2010 Wieteke alternately lives and works in The Hague and New York where among other things she has been artist-in-residence at the Flux Factory where she exhibited. In 2013 she won the Royal Prize for Modern Painting.