My art practice visually challenges and explores the notion of physical and mental transformation that every individual must face daily. How does the body react to the emotion and energy of their environment? How do we express empathy? Emanate courage? Ooze desire? How do these internal and interpersonal exchanges etch themselves into the very contours of our flesh, our vital organs, our brains?
As a painter navigating the balance of power between figurative and abstract convention, I work primarily in acrylics, guided by gesture and rhythm. These movements allow me to develop textures, which render visible the fields of attraction that reverberate within human relationships. Music gives structured purpose and depth to my work, enabling me to move beyond the mere depiction of scenarios.
Initially, on the blank surface, I start writing in the form of dialogues about human behavior. With the sentences largely hidden by brush strokes, one can read a few words here and there which propose subtle hints of interpreting the work.
Despite denouncing our lack of transparency, blindness to oneself and the conflicts arising from it, my paintings emerge as a mediation bringing to light the energetic complexity which lives as much within humans as around them.
Project description: You Are Wonderful
Theme Inner strength
It’s easy for us to talk about the oppressive aspects of 21st century life that make living it such a trial: anxiety, depression, gender inequality, racism, global warming. We must talk. We must change things to build peace out of this chaos.
We don’t speak as freely about love. It’s not easy for us to tell each other how wonderful the other is. We don’t give much importance to the kind of courage we urgently need today to navigate the 21st century.
In my works, I give expression to our strength to live. How do we manage to transcend our challenges and rekindle the inner strength required to fuel our struggle and continue to fight the fight? I dissect the faces and bodies of my characters to bring to light their audacious inner workings.
Over the course of the last century, our collective consciousness has evolved considerably through, among other things, the development of social justice, psychology and philosophy. We reap the fruits of our labours more quickly. Just as quickly come consequences; let’s consider how easily criminal behaviours of individuals and governments around the world are exposed and criticized much more overtly than ever before.
The result is the opportunity – and sometimes even the obligation – for governments to reorient their policies, and for us, to question our own experiences, our relationships with the people around us, our choice of society, our relationship with our planet.
In spite of this, real social change is slow to come… the evolution of our personal consciousness is veiled by an icy, even intentional blindness.
Reinforcing this inner strength would allow us to support a real shift of our values- the area over which we have the most power. What do we do with this power?
Project description: Peace in this Chaos
Focus: Overcoming Conflict
Conflict is everywhere. Everywhere around us, everywhere inside of us. This universal phenomenon generates a tension that the human being must live through every day. What is this tension? What form does it take in daily life? How can we translate into an image the resilience we need in this time of upheaval?
Close to us, one can note the record number of suicides, the increase in the consumption of anti-depressants, the instability of intimate relationships, the shattering of families. Humanity is being tested with refugees, terrorist attacks, and armed conflicts.
Beginning with live models, I draw and paint bodies positioned so as to express, on one hand, the difficulty of living in this chaos, and on the other, hope, empathy and solidarity. My brush is simultaneously a sword to fight this disorder, and a scalpel to dissect internal torment. I scrutinize the interior of the humans within my scene: the movement of their emotions and doubts, the structure of their inner strength, the intensity of their suffering, the complexity of their questioning, their symbiotic connection with their environment.
For example, in the painting Peace in this Chaos, the shapes that are painted in the body of the human evoke rocks, yet those same rocks are part of the surrounding chaos which envelopes them. In spite of this, a feeling of peace emanates outwards. The virginity of white paper illuminates their body, expanding until overflowing around them.
Since everything is transformation and impermanence, no character is overwhelmed or irrevocably disengaged. The beings live as many conflicts as they are able to free themselves from; they are in motion, plunged into an environment of tensions and harmony, exchanges and hope. They evolve in microcosms, each loaded with a meaning that demonstrates the complexity of the human condition as an interconnected and provisional state. The numerous experiences of this state reveal a common essence, an essence with the potential to generate solidarity.
While denouncing the negative effects of the myriad conflicts afflicting us, my works emits an effervescent force, and in this sense, creates a substantive message to convey to my contemporaries.
Project description: Les Tricheurs (The Cheats)
Focus: lack of self-awareness, hypocrisy, betrayal
A frequent impetus of my work is to bring to surface the false life that manifests to varying degrees in everyone. Though universal, it can take a different form for each individual: lack of self-awareness, deceit, cheating, betrayal, etc.
This quest drives me to the works of Renaissance and Baroque masters which revealed the richness of human nature by placing it in the centre of the universe. Humanism emerged from this time of effervescence. These paintings still reflect as much of our current affairs (corruption, repression, gender inequality) as they do our humanity (domination, aggression, solidarity, love).
In my series inspired by Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ (1605), for example, I blur the detail of the human figures and focus instead on the trajectories of brutality among them—the vector of the Roman soldiers’ aggressive projection of force, the malignant directionality of Judas Iscariot’s kiss. In my studies of Caravaggio’s The Cardsharps (1595), the cheats’ figures retreat into a dark, smoky storm of malversation and peril which swirls about the honest card player’s lamp-like, luminous face.
This series of paintings represent cynical, critical, but still optimistic meditations on hypocrisy and treachery, where actions and motives become environments as the figures’ gestures transform into elemental, storm-like forces. Because transformation permeates my work – no character is clearly male or female, perpetrator or victim — hope is available to all. The figures’ discrete entities retreat into an interplay of dynamic, moral magnetic fields, revealing the human experience as complex, interconnected, and provisional.
I attempt to respond to several questions. How is the energy released, received, absorbed? What are the ways in which it can transform? How does it enrich even if it originates from the malicious actions of others? How does it show in the physical body?
The characters I paint evolve within complex, interconnected, and provisional microclimates of the human condition, the many experiences of which reveal a common essence that could potentially lead to solidarity.
5570 rue Cartier, Montréal, H2H 1X9 – (514) 567-8255 – email@example.com / Copyright © 2022 Hélène La Haye. All Rights Reserved. / No further reproduction or distribution of the art works shown on this site is permitted without authorization. / Website realization Artlab