Irene Beers, publiciste, march 2006 

Open spaces

Lisa van der Heijden makes large paintings, square or rising, covered with many layers of oil paint. The, predominantly white and blue, shades of hue either merge or alternate as bright regions. Over these nearly  monotonous backgrounds small contrasting brushstrokes are placed: stripes, loops, coils, in darker hues, often with dripping paint, as a kind of calligraphic graffiti. “Signs” is the term van der Heijden uses for these strokes.

The work clearly shows the process of painting. In this regard the work reminds one of the Abstract Expressionism, the art movement that in the years after World war Two emerged in the United States with Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko as the best known representatives. In formal respects – colour use, brushstrokes – the work of van der Heijden is in particular related with that of Cy Twombly and that of the German lyric-abstract painter Peter Brüning. For her, however, the process of painting has a different function: It is not a means to express herself and her feelings in a direct way. Van der Heijden’s work is concerned with the investigation of space. Earlier work showed large planes in a variety of whitish hues and stacks or layers of broad brushstrokes. For this artist the process of painting is a time consuming process that requires a lengthy series of decisions, about colour, brushstroke and composition. The meaning of the final result is subordinated to this process, or better, is derived from it. These paintings refer to nothing else than to themselves and to each other.

What van der Heijden creates is not a copy of the “real” space as we experience it. As a viewer one has the possibility to join the painter in looking, one is not forced in a particular direction: The colours are light, the transparent layers constitute a space that not really soaks you in – indeed, there is nowhere an unambiguous vanishing point. It seems as if the loose brushstrokes are placed haphazardly over the whole painting. Indeed, so it seems. In fact, closer examination reveals that the composition is well-considered and balanced. The “signs” tumble under, over and in front of each other without touching each other. They neither form bonds nor meanings. Nothing dominates; there is no story except the one the viewer self comes up with. Also in this respect van der Heijden is keeping the spaces open.