Lockdowns are setting to ease, so are our inner energies. We experienced the  restriction, and hope freedom will be sweeter.  It is much awaited with gratitude and benevolence. Have we grown a little quiter, a little more calmer, a little more centred? Have we felt our own inner energies and inner dimensions that connect with our conscience more profoundly under the quite spell?

Conversations@Studio-ID continues sharing their connections and ruminating on the phenomenon the artists are engaging with, calmly, and with a purpose. Thank you Helene for continuing your sharing of conversations from your home bound studio, now a place of solace for your musings.

By Helene Le Chatelier

Hi, Welcome to this second episode of the series “Working under Confinement”. Today, I invite you to visit my home studio to discover some works in progress. 

Like many of us, I felt a bit disoriented when the confinement occurred. So during this weird period,  I decided to maintain my drawing skills by practicing hand studies.  At first, I started these drawings as a kind of training and as a self-discipline to structure my days and I chose hand as a subject with no specific intention except the pleasure to study its complexity and its expressivity.  But slowly by slowly, these “back to basics” informal drawings transformed into a kind of series in itself and I soon realized that this Touch me / Touch me not series was the perfect symbol of the social distancing we are all forced to experience at the moment. However, throughout this process, I enjoyed very much rediscovering the works of 2 amazing engravers who lived 1 century apart from each other: Albrecht Dürer, an artist from the German Renaissance, and Hendrick Goltzius whose practice took place during the early Baroque movement in Europe. Leaning on academic drawing skills and revisiting artworks and practices from the past were really very reassuring: it felt a bit like if those 2 very skilled artists were taking my hand, showing me the way in this uncertain time and my work can also be seen as a kind of tribute to both of them who have nurtured my black and white practice for a very long time. 

During the past weeks, I also spent a lot of time modeling. Clay was the perfect material to relieve stress and under this confinement situation, I found it particularly interesting to imagine what each of us could have inside our head. So I started to deconstruct skulls and faces in order to clear inner surfaces on which I will later integrate semi abstract landscapes made of chinese ink.  This allowed me to play with heads and minds as if they were falling apart puzzles and building blocks we can open, explore and play with.

Using landscape as a representation of an inner geography of the self shaped by experiences and social contexts is a constant in my work.  To me, amidst these cloudy spaces, memories and identities are continually moving fluidly, reflecting our constant negotiation with the outside world and with ourselves, resulting in an unstable balance depicting an indeterminate state as a constant of our human condition. 

I also believe that this unprecedented social isolation due to the Covid situation forces most of us to harshly negotiate with our inner self.  More than ever, our inner lives need to be cultivated to make our minds resourceful tools to sustain this situation and to make ourselves the best companion we could have under these circumstances.

Next time we will talk about another series of paintings and how they emerged in my mind in responding to the lockdown situation. So meet me for the next chapter of this series. But before that do not forget to be gentle to yourself, and take care!

The journeys of an artist unfolds with gentleness and care. Helene, it was amazing following you over this week in your studio space.