press release

We The Dutch First Party is the title of Sara van der Heide's most recent series of paintings and drawings. In these works, she engages more emphatically than in the past with the world around her, without relinquishing the veiled, dreamlike quality that makes her paintings so remarkable.

Van der Heide both uses and comments on images that come to us through the television, newspapers, and magazines. She re-contextualises them by combining them with other images, or by adding more abstract pictorial elements. Thus, every painting is multi-layered, frequently resonant with unexpected narrative associations.

The title We The Dutch First Party alludes to the tensions that have slowly but surely come to dominate our society over the past few years. The religious and social polarisation that followed in the wake of the murder of Theo van Gogh was one of her main points of departure for the series. In this context, the artist also took her inspiration from her immediate everyday surroundings: several of the paintings include motifs drawn from Bos en Lommer, the migrant neighbourhood where Van der Heide's studio is located. Thus the iconic Madonna of Bos en Lommer presents a Muslim woman with headscarf, and Tapestry was inspired by rugs that can be seen here and here hanging out to air over balcony railings.

Because of her multi-layered technique of painting, subdued brushstrokes and use of colour, Van der Heide's quotations of these everyday images take on a timeless quality, as if she has set out to give topicality a place in eternity - at the same time, they are powerful, colourful images. In the painting featured on the invitation cards, On & On, the rendering of the burning Twin Towers is obvious, but Van der Heide seems to be trying to create a visual representation of the psychological effects of potentially traumatic pictorial material. Just as images can continue to play through your mind 'like a film', the artist projects the image of the World Trade Centre into a peaceful living room. The little birds on TV appear to be quite oblivious of what has happened; or are they harbingers of what is still to come?

Amid all the re-interpretations of modernist and romantic themes that dominate contemporary painting, Van der Heide's work occupies a unique place. Through her subtle, multi-layered scenes, which reveal themselves only gradually to the viewer, the artist comments on her immediate surroundings and transforms these everyday observations into mildly disturbing, timeless images.

Presentation of new catalog (published by VALIZ)


only in german

Sara van der Heide: We the Dutch First Party