Helen Verhoeven wins eighth edition ABN AMRO Art Award

Press release -

On June 28th it has been announced that Helen Verhoeven (1974, Leiden) has won the eighth edition of the ABN AMRO Art Award. In March 2019 an exhibition of her work, which is part of the prize, will open at the Hermitage Amsterdam, and in Circl.ART, ABN AMRO’s art project space on the Zuidas. From Friday 22 March 2019 the exhibition will be open to the public.

With its choice of Helen Verhoeven, the jury of the eighth ABN AMRO Art Award has opted for an artist who links restrained emotion and contemporary social dilemmas with classical, historical and arthistorical iconography.

Nothing in Verhoeven's work is what it appears to be. With her seemingly naive yet meticulous painterly style, she abandons the rules of place, time and space, harking back to a medieval idiom in which a number of potentially disparate elements exist alongside each other in one image. Her paintings seduce the viewer via their reassuringly familiar compositions, but upon further consideration, they prove to be full of conflicting messages: scenes in which a perpetrator is simultaneously victim, in which violence and intimacy closely interrelate, and where status and pose mask deeply rooted isolation.

Furthermore, the jury is struck by a visual language that is entirely Verhoeven's own. She flirts with art-historical traditions and clashing styles, painting with masterly verve – at times deliberately coarse and awkward, yet then very precise – switching back and forth between perspectival views, close-ups, and fragmentation, without losing sight of the whole.

The ABN AMRO Art Award is intended as a stimulus for talent in the Netherlands. The quality and singularity of the work are principal criteria for selection. While making her mark with significant exhibitions within the country and abroad, Helen Verhoeven remains relatively unknown to a wider Dutch audience. Her intriguing and idiosyncratic body of work is rich and full of surprises, continually displaying new and unexpected developments. The jury considers Verhoeven a remarkably talented artist, deftly combining a thoughtful consideration of tradition, an acute topicality, and a visual language that is unique among those of her generation.


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