Brit Artist Sophie von Hellermann Brings Her ‘Petri Dishes’ to the West Coast

Sophie von Hellermann has built her artistic career around the use of idioms, metaphor, and literary references in her work. But it’s the German painter’s own life in Margate, UK, and her family that provides inspiration for the new exhibition Petri Dishes (at LA’s Parrasch Heijnen Gallery).

“The personal is of course a part of the process,” Hellermann says. “Canterbury Bells is a direct reference to the school my children attend, and the painting was made when the Bluebells were in flower throughout the forest along a historical route pilgrims would take to the Cathedral City. Whereas Seaside Culture is a reference to where we live in Margate, a typical old fashioned seaside resort.”

Canterbury Bells by Sophie von Hellermann

Through these examples, as well as references to Greek mythology, Christianity, German folklore, and modern American culture, her latest series examines the roots of our cultural understandings. A bold yet thin application of color on canvas represents what seems a chaotic portrayal of life, floating subjects in some mysterious system of harmony. But it’s in the madness that she finds her muse.

“Living is drama,” she reckons, “and indeed the paintings are attempts to contain the turmoil of emotions and solve existential problems…or find harmony, or as you put it, idyll, in chaos.”

Sophie von Hellerman’s Petri Dishes is on display at the Parrasch Heijnen Gallery in Los Angeles through August 18.

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