Sara der Heide

The Theatre Of Oklahoma Presents

12 January - 2 March 2008

The exhibition shown in the project space is dedicated to drawings and paintings by Sara van der Heide (1977, Ulsan, South Korea) from the past two years. These are large, colorful and stratified works that tend to evoke a nearly cinematic experience. Fiction, current events and personal narratives converge in intricately structured paintings. The role that nationality plays with the identity of the individual is an important theme.

In 2006 Sara van der Heide, who grew up in the Netherlands, returned to Korea, her country of birth, for the second time. The paintings that she produced following her stay in South Korea comprise a reflection on a history and a culture which could have, but did not, become her own. A puzzling image such as The Folding Screen is also part of the series. In an unspecified space a figure is lying in a bed, surrounded by all sorts of objects; a giant monkey, at the foot of it, peers down at the sleeping figure in a melancholy way. Behind a wide folding screen loom the shadows of two guards. They give the image a certain ominous character; but whether they actually exist or are, in fact, visions from a dream remains uncertain. 

For the past year Van der Heide has been in New York on an artist-in-residence grant. In the works that she has painted during that stay in the United States, mental images also play a significant role. This series deals with the very diverse perspectives that give color to the image of America. King Kong; And The Streets Are Paved With Gold  combines the mythical dimensions of this giant gorilla with the illusions of the immigrant. In Playstation; a Scene at War the virtual and real waging of war are extensions of each other. In The Theatre Of Oklahoma Karl Rossmann, the main character from Kafka’s unfinished novel Amerika, appears on the scene. This is the story of America as the land of infinite promise, but also the story of the outsider. The large painting is characteristic of Van der Heide’s way of working. It makes one think of a poster for a play. At the same time, it sums up a number of scenes from the book: Karl’s past as a elevator boy, but also the moment when he goes up to the ticket office of the Theatre Of Oklahoma, which attracts job applicants with the inviting words “All Personnel Being Hired”. The thin, fluid manner of painting evokes a sense of temporality. In the transparent layers of color, even more shapes loom forth, as though a veil is being lifted. Nothing is permanent; that which is visible can disappear in an instant or change form. The formal and connotative strata of the paintings allow room for various interpretations. Sara van der Heide fosters that openness; hidden in an image are multiple stories.

website of the artist