Oil on canvas
1 / Hélène DUCLOS, 2016 – Artist Statement
“Questioning the human condition and the position of being alive – What is it to be a living being? Who / what can we believe? Who / what can we trust? How real is our view of the world? And how is that perspective angled, and ultimately limited? These are the issues at the heart of my work as an artist.
Painting, drawing, engraving and embroidery give me the freedom to approach my subjects from an ambivalent and flexible standpoint. I am building up a dynamic body of work, like pieces that you can put together in one way or another to shape different structures, pierced with numerous openings. And the title that I give each piece acts as a possible clue as to how to enter inside that system.
I can portray both softness and monstrosities. I focus on the links and barriers lying between living beings and their surroundings, and evoke how permeable these connections are. My aim is not to create a visual documentary reporting fact, but rather immerse myself in observing everyday life, and in a host of images depicting real events (pictures, photos and videos). Instilled with these images, I can give a more personalized, unique and allegorical vision of the world around me.
I am also interested in the key transition periods of human existence, those turning points that forge our identity within a family, a group, and society as a whole at the heart of a specific environment. I centre on what makes up and creates cohesion (rituals, myths and tales….), and indeed the opposite - what leads to life becoming shattered, hindered and frustrated (moving populations, exile and migration…)
Amidst a landscape roaming with wild beasts and hybrid creatures, between love and separation, metaphors for our own desires and fears lie in hiding, or reveal themselves in the painted or embroidered spaces. Sometimes they are etched with lines, symbols and tiny architectural designs. These works might depict our inner landscapes, as if harking back to a primordial and cosmic point of origin.
My most recent collections recreate the images of bodies or landscapes using abstract zones and figurative details that have no direct link with either anatomy or geography. Intimacy and the unspeakable are themes that run throughout my work, and I make sure to incorporate areas of both visual tension and relief, so as to give the viewer the space to project him or herself into the work. And here, such paradoxes can only be reached through the interplay between abstraction and figuration.”
2 / Thierry Delcourt
Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author of works on the process of artistic creation, and the conditions of existential and social creativity :
"Entering into the world of Hélène Duclos in her drawings, paintings, embroidery and words means letting yourself be carried away by a torrent towards strange shores of creation where only a few artists have ever dared to venture. As if perched on a watchtower on the threshold of different worlds, Hélène Duclos throws us out of our depth, plunging us into spaces filled with destitute mankind, and guiding us through her stem-like maze of a scheme, bristling with roots and clues. But the mystery here, like a poetic, human rebus that never ends, only compels us to take a closer look.”
3 / Hélène Duclos ‘s biography :
After graduating from the Duperré School of Applied Arts in Paris with a degree in textile design, I set off on a six-month sea voyage from Vannes in Brittany, to Dakar. On returning to France, I set up my atelier in Montpellier, collaborating on projects with performing artists, with my visual research finally producing a collection of art installations. At that time I was working on paper and canvas, as well as with costume and theatre design using fabric and light metal.
In 1996, I decided to focus myself entirely on exploring pictorial art, and I gradually built up experience in different techniques by training with various artists in both France and Vietnam.
From the new millennium onwards, my work began to be represented by private galleries and shown at art fairs mainly in Paris, Brussels, Lyon and Tours.
Come 2010, having been pushed along by various winds from all directions, I found myself once again, needle in hand, in front of piles of fabric. It was at that point that I began my research into embroidery, while also developing my work in drawing, and training myself in copperplate engraving.
My work is firmly rooted in the contemporary art scene, and features in public collections such as in Le Mans, as well as in private art collections spanning France, Belgium, England, the USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
5 key dates
1974: born in Boulogne-Billancourt in Paris, brought up in Seine-et-Marne on the Paris outskirts.
1995: textile design degree at the Duperré School of Applied Arts in Paris, followed by travel abroad to Africa and Asia.
1996: Montpellier, collaborated on performing arts projects.
1999: Drôme, southeast France, developed personal visual arts projects.
2015: Nantes, hic et nunc.