As the tectonic shifts are happening under our feet, and our little world is trying to salvage its position, each country is revisiting what is important to them. To find ways to explore newer possibilities, and to look inward. So is each artist creating new spaces and newer ways of working in confinement.

Over the last few weeks, we at Conversations have been following Helene Le Chatelier to explore her space  and we bring her last and final episode as we enter the new phase of freeing from the lockdown.

By Helene Le Chatelier

Hi and welcome to the 3rd and last episode of the series Working under confinement. Today, we are going to talk about some paintings I realized over the past weeks and I will explain to you why they all have a little square trying to find its own right place. 

When the confinement arrived, I was working in my Singapore’s studio on a series of ink paintings called Carré Blanc, literally meaning White Square. This series had been named after a signage established on French TV in the 60’s to point contents such as nudity. 

Through these artworks, my purpose was to explore the incongruity of the abstract little square on the image itself as well as the definitive and irreversible action of stamping or marking something we all have in common: our nude body. 

In my practice, I usually like working on large scale formats. But with the confinement, I had to reduce the size of my artworks to my working space at home. Considering this constraint, I started to explore the idea of creating a new series of work, using the squares present in my Carré Blanc series to give them another existence in resonance with the lock down situation.

Transposing the exact same size square into a much smaller format, and creating its content completely affected our perception of the space. Suddenly, locking the squares into a smaller space gave emphasis to their size, their presence and their visual importance. 

During this confinement, living all together under one roof without any external intake, forces us to constantly negotiate and struggle (sometimes) with our feelings, as well as with the space we are locked in. To me, one of the main effects of this life under confinement is the emphasis given to emotions. Indeed, being isolated with a restricted access to activities and friends doesn’t allow us to find diversions or escapes of any sort. Sometimes, we may have to better keep our emotions locked in a box for a while in order to make this confinement more bearable for everyone! But sometimes, these inner emotions can also become a refuge or a bracket of breathing… 

This confinement also affects directly our perception of space and our relation with that very same space. Under such particular circumstances, it is sometimes difficult for some of us to find our right place within the family or within our home itself. It is a question of composing and finding a balance with space and feelings… 

As such, these squares trying to find their own right place constitute an emotions’ confinement attempt as much as they are a shelter for some precious feelings. They can also be seen as a representation of ourselves  trying several positions to accommodate the space and the environment we are locked in…

At last, this Covid19 situation has definitely given a lot of importance, especially in Singapore, to tracing and none of us can escape QR codes wherever we go… For better or for worse, I don’t know… Everything I know is that those QR codes also have… a square shape!

I hope this episode inspired you. It has been a great pleasure for me to share this mini series with you. You can follow me on Instagram (helenelechatelier) or on Facebook (Helene Le Chatelier Artist) to stay up to date with my next exhibitions. Don’t forget to be gentle to yourself and take care! See you soon!

The profound intervention of the covid has impacted our generation to learn to pause, to be mindful, to be appreciative of what we have, and to be little more kinder and more gentle indeed. Thank you Helene, and hope you enjoyed making this series as much as we enjoyed following you!