Wim Heldens is a Dutch portrait artist who creates flamboyant, highly expressive portraits set in intimate interiors, elevating ordinary people to actors staging his philosophical, often witty narratives. Inspired by the realist approach of the 17th Century Golden Age in the Low Countries, Heldens’ skillfully captures the distinctive northern European chiaroscuro, reminiscent of Dutch masters such as Johannes Vermeer and Gerard ter Borch. Heldens’ main focus is on the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition within daily life as it unfolds around him, using traditional methods to translate his concepts and insights into contemporary visuals.
Heldens’ favorite portrait subject is Ariq Robinson (also known as Eric) whom he has painted twenty-three times to date and describes as, “my muse, my partner, my husband—even though we’re not married—he’s the love of my life.” Heldens also enjoys painting children and youngsters for many of whom he’s a surrogate father figure. Heldens thinks children are often portrayed too sweetly sentimental, so he aims to depict them as distinct, individual personalities. A signature item that appears in each of Heldens’ paintings is a framed mirror or image which metaphorically breaks through the wall of the interior space to offer an alternative symbolic view to complement the narrative.