Vilma Gold is pleased to present, On the Ground, by Sophie von Hellermann, the inaugural exhibition at new premises on Vyner Street, London E2. Staged prior to the gallery’s formal renovation, On the Ground weaves new paintings into the existing fabric of the semi-derelict building.
On the Ground takes the form of contemporary iconostases based on the events leading up to the death of the cult figure Nico. In a series of part-fictional and part-factual scenes Nico is depicted alongside Andy Warhol, members of the Factory scene and finally her son Ari. Hellermann’s paintings are loosely based on an outline of the final period in Nico’s life where she fled Manchester for Ibiza. In Manchester she had lost another battle against her ongoing drug addiction and sought solace on the holiday island and a close relationship with Ari, the child she had given up at birth. She died on the island in 1988, a brain Hemorrhage, road accident and drug overdose have all, over the years, been mooted as the possible cause. Her death remains shrouded in mystery.
On the Ground can be seen as a continuation of von Hellermann’s exploration of the gaps between autobiography and biography. As with her previous series’ based on the missing Russian princess Anastasia, and German terrorist group member Ulrike Meinhof, von Hellermann chooses to tell Nico’s story in as much as Nico’s story serves to tell her own. As a painter von Hellermann seems discontented with straight, biographical, depictions of someone else’s life. Rather, the ambiguity that surrounds her subjects, especially their deaths, affords her a space where subject can be confused with object. Each character functions like a screen behind which her story can at times be revealed and at others remain hidden.
Sophie von Hellermann was born in Munich and lives and works in London. She has had solo presentations at Jablonka Galerie Linn Luhn, Koln, Kunstverein Konstanz, Germany, Marc Foxx, Los Angeles and Saatchi Gallery, London. Her work has been included in numerous international group shows, most notably Dear Painter, paint me, Pompidou Centre, Paris. Forthcoming exhibitions include solo presentations at Vacio 9, Madrid and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles.
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