Rendered in subtle washes of acrylic on a vast, immersive scale, Leading Lady is an important early work by German artist Sophie Von Hellermann. The painting dates from 2001: the year that she graduated from London’s Royal College of Art, and staged her first solo exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. With their deliberately romantic, anecdotal and pastel-washed appearance, Von Hellermann’s canvases are conceived in opposition to the grandiloquence, masculine bravado and gravitas that dominated German painting during the post-War period. Working in fast, wet-on-wet brushstrokes on unprimed cotton, her fluid picture planes offer analogies for the ways in which identities slip and dissolve under the pressure of aspirational media imagery. The present work takes its place within Von Hellermann’s early cast of celebrity types and whimsical ‘girlish’ clichés; more recent canvases have drawn inspiration from broader subject matter including global politics, religion and science. ‘The paints often contain a bit of Fairy Liquid from washing out the brushes and I like to think of the canvases as giant soap bubbles’, she explains. ‘They are large scale, like projections on the wall. I have an idea that we are merely a projection of the past, that we don't really exist and that we are an imaginary future scenario played out’.