Wim Heldens | Still I rise
oil on canvas, 130 x 80 cm, 2021

This is a kind of colourful ‘state portrait’ of th well-known politician Sylvana Simons, leader of the anti-racism party Bij1, which advocates a reform of social structures which fail to prevent serious discrimination. Her role in various emancipation
processes is symbolized by the rainbow colours in the background, almost dominating the canvas. The title of the painting is taken from the well-known poem by Maya Angelou, an inspirational hymn about the plight of the down-trodden.

In 2020 Heldens took upon himself to support a young orphan in ­Uganda, belonging to the poorest strata of the country, growing-up with his grandma. For the painter this was an opportunity to combine a form of private development aid with an artistic symbolism: the plight of people living in postcolonial areas, their poor deprived of the most basic necessities, in a country notorious for its corruption, and yet: the place where humanity began its spectacular developments, the birth of the species.