Artist Hélène Le Chatelier Explores Themes of Identity and Nature

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Hélène Le Chatelier Hélène Le Chatelier. Picture: Corinne Mariaud

What units people aside from different residing issues on Earth? Little question it’s our cognitive talents, which we’ve got developed many hundreds of years in the past. Transferring past simply satisfying our fundamental wants, we’ve got developed to query deeper points. One in every of such points is the theme of identification and Singapore-based artist Hélène Le Chatelier is exploring it by her artworks. Be it by pictures, writings or sculptures, she hopes to supply that little spark that may set us on a journey of self-discovery.

Staging her physique of works on the Fauna Allegoria exhibition curated by Marina Oechsner de Coninck, you possibly can be part of her by her artworks to catch a glimpse of how our identification could be very a lot related to nature.

You studied artwork in Paris at l’École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Artwork, Olivier de Serres, the place you graduated in Superb Artwork Fresco portray with honours. Inform us about your first steps as an artist?

Quickly after my commencement, I began to work with Chinese language ink. I used to be residing in Paris and had no actual reference to Asia on the time. However Fresco portray (an Italian Renaissance approach) and Chinese language Ink have quite a bit in widespread. In each methods, the interplay with water is essential and the primary stroke should be the great one.

The sensation is sort of a tightrope walker within the sense that the gesture should have interaction all elements of you and requires your full presence. That is the sort of threat I like very a lot! My exploration was focusing primarily on the physique as a recipient of our particular person and collective reminiscence. Nonetheless, once I began this work, I used to be in my 20s and, as soon as extra, just like the funambulist, I felt a bit afraid of heights in entrance of this creative journey that was actually sucking me up by taking every thing from me. So after one yr of full observe and a primary profitable exhibition in Paris, I made a decision to hold up my brushes for good, I assumed… Till I moved to Singapore 20 years later.

You utilize a large spectrum of medium in your artwork: portray, sculpture, pictures, video, set up, writing. How do you select a medium? Is all of it based mostly in your inspiration at a selected level of time?   

Hélène Le Chatelier, Detail of Our ForestElement of Our Forest. Picture: Hélène Le Chatelier

Truly, it’s slightly the opposite approach round. I don’t select to work with a selected medium. It’s the medium that chooses me! Once I need to discover a selected topic, one of the best medium to specific my thought typically imposes itself in a daring approach. There’s nothing I can resist right here. Whereas I pleasurably give option to the decision of this particular medium, another concepts could come alongside the best way to specific a barely totally different nuance of the identical topic by one other medium. It’s a bit like taking a look at an object from varied angles.

Beginning with conventional mediums similar to ink or clay, I prefer to function a sort of trimming round my topic to finish with video or set up, a extra conceptual type of artwork. Working with a large spectrum of mediums can be a great way to convoke viewers in numerous manners. You contain your self in another way when taking a look at a portray or turning round a sculpture, or coming into into an immersive set up, or watching a video. Artwork is intimately tied up with sensory expertise which performs an necessary position in my observe in the best way that it engages the viewer to resonate instantly with the paintings.  

You’re greatest recognized in your ink bodyscapes and in your works with paper, partaking writing and summary landscapes. How are these works associated to your research on reminiscence?

Once I create a portray with ink, more often than not, my approach lies in processes involving traces and prints. It displays very a lot how every thing we’re going by in our lives and the way it leaves its hint inside us. All collectively these microscopic traces form us. I began to make use of semi-abstract landscapes in my work after working for a while on the connection between the physique and the reminiscence it incorporates. I prefer to see the physique as a territory to discover — inside and outside.

Our physique is the one device we’ve got to work together with the world and our exterior type is just the floor of it. I exploit these summary landscapes as a attainable illustration of our inside worlds as I imagine that our intimate universe is far wider than the planet we reside on.

Utilizing writing can be very a lot associated to reminiscence in the best way that it’s a device to inform tales from the previous and to make your voice heard. It has one thing to do with heritage and the thought of transmitting one thing from one technology to a different. Personally, I additionally see the act of writing as a sort of reminiscence electrocardiogram, recording our emotional state at a selected second, one thing to do with remembrance too.

How do you outline one’s particular person reminiscence versus the general collective reminiscence?

Hélène Le Chatelier studioPicture: Marina Oechsner de Coninck

I might outline particular person reminiscence because the sum of non-public recollections one could have whereas collective reminiscence refers extra to our widespread historical past. I believe our particular person reminiscence could be very influenced by our collective one and reciprocally. I’m significantly curious about observing how each points of reminiscence affect our intimacies, and the way they intervene with our physique’s illustration. As an illustration, how, as a girl and because of the prevalence of a male gaze on ladies’s our bodies over the previous centuries, my thoughts is formed in a approach that my physique is unconsciously tied as much as female physique illustration in relation to sexuality. These sorts of social and cultural constructions have a really direct impression on our day by day lives, from the best way we use style to the best way we work together with each other.

Or as an illustration, even when there isn’t any colonial previous in my household and even when I’m not British, as a white girl residing in Singapore, and whether or not I prefer it or not, for some folks I’m the inadvertent inheritor of this collective previous. It has one thing to do with clichés. To me, clichés denote a scarcity of subtlety however on the identical time, it is vitally tough to flee them. Latest scientific research present how a lot our behaviours may be pushed by them.

Each our collective and our particular person recollections form us and affect who we’re. All alongside this course of, globalisation and migration problem us in the best way that they pressure us to continuously negotiate with our personal recollections and with our collective reminiscence to revisit who we’re. This can be a very complicated course of that has rather more impression on our behaviours and in our lives than what we want to suppose. 

You retain exploring the affect of displacement on the best way we assemble / deconstruct our identification. Would you agree that the notion of identification has been on the very core of your artwork for the previous decade?

Sure, I completely agree. This notion is actually on the core of my creative analysis and I’m completely fascinated by the complexity that lies behind it. “Id” is a phrase that summarizes all the problems associated to physique, intimacy, particular person and collective reminiscence. As you talked about in your query, I discover the best way we assemble/deconstruct our identification.

This precept of development/deconstruction signifies that it’s an in-motion course of. Nothing is fastened, nothing may be clearly outlined right here because the identification covers all kinds and shifting points of 1 particular person. Id is one thing unstable, fragile, liquid within the sense that it may be elusive or unstable. Similar to water, it takes the form of its container (our physique). All these points collectively type our territory, our private panorama and, as a panorama, that is one thing that evolves with the course of life, reflecting the transitional and indeterminate state of our human situation.

Questions pertaining to our relationship with nature and our fast-changing setting are additionally very current in your artwork. The place did this concentrate on nature got here from?

The connection between people and nature got here extra not too long ago in my observe. It occurred whereas I began to randomly decide up branches that fall down from sure palm timber on Singapore’s streets. They appear like mini timber with none roots. I used to be significantly curious about exploring how one thing might develop and increase with lacking roots: a topic that has quite a bit to do with reminiscence and identification once more.

This led me to contemplate that our relationship with nature may very well be seen as one among our most historic roots. As people, it’s most likely essentially the most common hyperlink we’ve got in the best way that it’s taller than our cultural variations. Over the previous century, we’ve got completely uncared for this hyperlink, believing that nature may very well be submissive like an object. We forgot that nature is an alive entity. We forgot that we’re sure with this entity by a precept of reciprocity. It’s pressing that we’re thoughtful and put this reciprocity on the centre of our relationship with nature. In any other case, nature will drag us into its fall and humanity could quickly develop into a fossilised civilisation.

What feelings do you hope the viewers expertise when taking a look at your artwork?

I hope folks relate to the paintings and query themselves with me. I hope they are often moved, intrigued and mesmerised like I’m, by the sweetness and the complexity of our human situation. This can be a fascinating topic that may result in an limitless exploration… The magic of artwork is that it affords an excellent mirror to have a look at your self and I hope that my artwork invitations folks to reconnect with themselves and with their inside world.

What’s the position the artist performs within the society?

This can be a huge query. Primarily, I might say that the artist is the one who is ready to be completely current on the planet he lives in whereas sufficiently indifferent to step again, observe and query that exact same world. His position is to interrogate the world and its development in a approach that the invisible turns into seen to different people.

You’ve got simply gained a Photographic Award (Pulse Award). Inform us extra there!

I’m very honoured and grateful to have gained the Pulse Award 2021 within the pictures class. The awarded {photograph} is named “Terra Incognita (Untold)”. It’s an embroidered {photograph} that had been exhibited in Singapore throughout Intimate Topographies, a solo present co-organised by the Alliance Française and Intersections and curated by Tan Siuli. It explores the standing of femininity representations beneath the sunshine of softness.

I’m significantly moved as a result of this award not solely crowns three years of creative analysis about femininity, however it additionally rewards softness, reconciliation and resilience one’s owe to oneself particularly in relation to issues about sexuality. Selecting to face on the facet of gentleness is an actual act of resistance in immediately’s world the place contents evoking sexuality are sometimes brutal and debates so vivid and polarised when speaking about up to date femininities.

What has been your newest venture and what’s deliberate for you throughout 2022?

Hélène Le Chatelier, Geology of MemoryGeology of Reminiscence. Picture: Hélène Le Chatelier

My ongoing initiatives comprise a big sculpture I plan to develop in the middle of 2022. I will even pursue the event of Geology of Reminiscence, a collection first offered at Artwork Outreach in February 2021. In the meantime, I hope to proceed a long-term artwork and science venture I began in collaboration with the Mechanobiology Institute of Singapore / CNRS from the Nationwide College of Singapore, exploring the idea of disappearance.

In 2022, I shall be collaborating within the Pulse Awards exhibition that’s going to be held in Bangkok till March. The {photograph} shall be auctioned to profit Basis for Life charity to assist the testing and therapy of people and communities for HIV.

I’m additionally very pleased to announce my participation in a bunch exhibition that shall be organised by Intersections in March 2022 in Singapore with EHL Campus. I’m very excited to work with Singaporean artists I like quite a bit similar to Jason Lim and Mona Choo and I’ve a few different thrilling initiatives in my pockets, some in relation with Marina Oechsner de Coninck and a few others abroad, however it’s a bit early to speak about that now, so keep tuned!

What can guests anticipate to see from you at Fauna Allegoria?

Throughout Fauna Allegoria, guests will see 4 pictures from my pure reminiscence collection. These artworks query our forgotten relationship with nature. They symbolize a community of branches almost petrified on a background evoking a variety of mountains, rifts and faults that may be seen because the folds of our minds. I will even current an set up fabricated from branches, ceramic and mirrors. The paintings addresses the problem of the reciprocal hyperlink that binds us to nature.

Your favorite museum in Singapore?

First, I might say the Singapore Nationwide Museum for elevating points relating to identification, historical past and reminiscence. I had been significantly struck by the exhibition known as “700 Years” — a short lived exhibition offered in 2014. I’m additionally an enormous fan of the Nationwide Gallery for the sweetness and the extent of its collections and its structure as properly.

What’s your favorite mantra that you just reside by?

Be compassionate. Imagine in your self. Do your greatest. The place you are actually is the place you are supposed to be so absolutely embrace what you do.

When you had been to call one mentor who has impressed you in your life and path as an artist, who would that be?

The primary artist who had a decisive affect on my observe is the Chinese language painter Zao Wou Ki. His latter works with ink acted on me as a revelation and these artworks are the start line of my observe.

To call a couple of extra who play a job in my creative pantheon, I might add Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, Hans Hartung, Alberto Gicaometti, Christian Boltansky, James Turrell, Richard Lengthy, Jeanne-Claude and Christo, in addition to Sophie Calle, Annette Messager, Louise Bourgeois. Positively not sufficient ladies right here!

Hélène Le Chatelier Set up at Fauna Allegoria Exhibition. Picture: Handstudio.
Hélène Le Chatelier Set up at Fauna Allegoria Exhibition. Picture: Handstudio.

Get your tickets to the exhibition here. Comply with Hélène Le Chatelier’s Instagram: @helenelechatelier





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