Six questions for
Wieteke Heldens

Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Wieteke Heldens.

Artist Wieteke Heldens
Lives in New York and The Hague

How do you describe your own art practice?

I always say that I wish I was like Hanne Darboven or On Kawara, but I am not. That is maybe the best way to describe my work. On the first view my work is abstract and conceptual but at the same time it is obsessive and compulsive. Rules and mathematical formulas are the starting point, but the impossibility to turn off feelings, thoughts and emotions, prevents that the paintings are too general and distant.

What was your first experience with art?

My father took me to the Kröller-Müller museum when I was young and I was very touched by the work of Stanley Brouwn where he walked a various number of steps in different points. The starting point of each walk is marked with a board with the text: “starting point of a distance of… steps walked by Stanley Brouwn on 20 December 1984”. I had never seen something like that before and I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

I don’t really believe in inspiration, or at least not in a source of inspiration because it is everything. Although I do believe in discouragement. Sometimes I just know I am just going to waste my materials but even then it could be functional to make something bad.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Nothing really, there is always a way to make work. My content drawings started because I had no studio and no materials. I just moved to New York and all my food and drinks I bought came in brown paper bags. I started to trace the creases of the bags and titled the drawings “I am sorry no Content”. Now seven years later I still make these drawings, the title changed to “With Content” and the content changed in many ways.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working now on a solo-exhibition: “With Content from all over” in New York. I will include paper bags from all over, from New York but also from The Hague, South Korea and Turin. I will also show the bags where they come from, in the corner store, the Chinese restaurant, the pizza shop etc. So besides the gallery representation of the work I will expand it to the neighbourhood I’m living in.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

There are many answers on this question but I have to say the museum retrospective of Kerry James Marshall: Mastry at the Met Breuer. It is good and interesting in many different layers. I think it is important that work has more layers and this retrospective is showing a lot of them.

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