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Show and Tell: Sophie Von Hellermann

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I did several paintings where I just replaced time with space,” says Sophie von Hellermann. The daughter of a nuclear physicist, the German-born painter emerged at light speed from the Royal College of Art in 2001, picking up patrons like Charles Saatchi and showing at the Centre Pompidou. For her first New York solo exhibition, she’s made a series of paintings loosely inspired by the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s “miracle year,” his unparalleled string of discoveries culminating in E=mc2. Take Good Space Girl (2005), a graceful, watery rendering of a scantily clad blonde in a time capsule, or Billiard (2005), a vision of a three-dimensional game of pool. “I was reading about how Einstein was thinking about particles in space moving, bumping off each other,” says Von Hellermann, who also studied the physicist’s love letters to his first wife. The artist’s work may, in fact, have more to do with collisions of a romantic nature; in another painting, the space between two embracing figures becomes an hourglass. “Space becomes time and time becomes space, in a very superficial way,” she explains. “The good-time girl becomes the Good Space Girl—someone who likes to party.”

At Greene Naftali
Through June 18.


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