Here's a piece I wrote exclusively for UNPOLISHED Magazine, fortunate enough to meet the mysteriously dark and talented French painter Hélène Delmaire.
/If MYSTICISM, BIOLOGY and the FEMALE BODY draw a smile inside and out of your soul, keep scrolling./
A warm thank you to my LA sister Brit Parks for the trust+
Nature, as much as Ophelia’s and WATERHOUSE’s aesthetics, brought French painter Hélène Delmaire on a path that some might consider disturbing, when her art actually transcends darkness for more light. No shame in assuming her oversensitivity: Hélène creates to lose herself in order to connect with others, and not only with humans, but with anything living. If mysticism, biology and the female body draw a smile inside and out of your soul, keep scrolling.
Her world mysteriously balances from pastel to darker brush strokes revisiting the Victorian gothic. An ode to UNIVERSAL and contemporary femininity as much as an individual romance with complementary colours, her oil and acrylics work springs from an impulse. The idea of violence to break a cliché. The risk she is taking every time she erases the eyes of portraits after spending hours working on them shapes a relief – when it works as expected, the feeling reaches thrilling heights. Although she avoids over intellectualising art, aware that we spend 80% of our time gazing into someone’s eyes when in conversation, her spontaneous and liberating movement challenges the UNIVERSAL face-to-face interaction by blocking out the sight. How to find a way in then?
Appealed by the idea to force people to look differently at her paintings instead of how they would usually do, she celebrates the understated. Inspired by photographs that she takes, Hélène starts by transforming these printed memories, their colours, in her head and loneliness; painting follows next. It never goes as planned, and that’s what makes her the HAPPIEST, letting things happen. Organically. As she knows very well that trying too hard in order to stick to the initial and clearer image simply makes the artwork dead. She likes to refer to David Lynch’s words to illustrate her creative process: “It comes on a TV in your mind.”
“DARKNESS IS AN OUTLET”
Negative reactions, especially about her Eyeless collection, seem hard to avoid. People get put off by its Romantic DEPTH: “You’re such a smiling girl, full of light, and you paint such DARK stuff!” That’s precisely what allows her to smile all the time, finding an outlet in the disturbing, the distressing: “We’re simple animals,” she says, “we dislike unpleasant things.” Although she finds it difficult to put words on her work, she speaks inner world and miscommunication: “People live together for 30 years, but still get surprised by their partner. Even with people that you love, there’s always things you won’t be able to fully understand about them. There’s also things that are so personal that they are hard to share with anyone. I think this innerworld can be too intense… You need to get it out but you can’t, or don’t know how to. That is to be expressed through art rather than words.” Her admirers most probably find themselves in a search for some sort of therapy through the pleasure of the craft.
Attending a life drawing session every week made her realise the striking beauty of everyone, understanding as well why religions consider nature as perfection, by God – she’s agnostic though. Her Nus collection materialises the essence of being a body as nothing less than a piece of art. No room allowed for the oversexualisation too often attributed to its representation. Almost anonymous, between the relief and the pain, it mainly flirts with shades of blue at such an intimate and peaceful pace that flesh, SKIN and bones become translucent. One with the environment, a touch away from the ultimate COMMUNICATION and perfection.
Some of her paintings remain untitled. A fascination for mystery? The explicit public misunderstanding? She laughs, and explains: “I suck at naming them, I prefer to call them with numbers. If you express something visually, it should be enough.” Between symbolism and pure aesthetics, flowers and the female body, you’ll find Hélène Delmaire’s work on social media, where she sometimes documents her behind-the-scene, Grimes playing in the background. Admittedly, she got a crush on the fearless singer and alien artist for the full control in her creative process, unafraid to take risks and simply because “she doesn’t give a sh*t!” Dreaming of a similar existence, Hélène however wants to please everyone for the sake of that precious connection before we have to face the final PAIN: our mortality. In her very own way she triggers hope and discussions about taboos. “Maybe it’s off topic but I feel like climate change is going to be a pretty intense mise à nu,” she drops when asked about what kind of nude 2020 could have in stock.+
*If you read carefully between the lines, you’ll find a part of a stream of consciousness that our editor and Hélène shared – it continues just below. Our editor’s words underlined, Hélène’s in capital letters.
… – SCARE – wounds – HEALING – painting – HEALING – growing – NECESSARY – feeling – ALL ENGULFING [End].
IMAGES COURTESY OF ©HÉLÈNE DELMAIRE