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Artist Hélène Le Chatelier Explores Themes of Id and Nature

Hélène Le Chatelier. Picture: Corinne Mariaud

What units people other than different dwelling issues on Earth? Little question it’s our cognitive skills, which we’ve developed many hundreds of years in the past. Shifting past simply satisfying our fundamental wants, we’ve advanced to query deeper points. One among such points is the theme of identification and Singapore-based artist Hélène Le Chatelier is exploring it by means of her artworks. Be it by means of images, writings or sculptures, she hopes to supply that little spark that can 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 may be part of her by means of her artworks to catch a glimpse of how our identification may 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 Nice 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 dwelling in Paris and had no actual reference to Asia on the time. However Fresco portray (an Italian Renaissance method) and Chinese language Ink have quite a bit in widespread. In each strategies, 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 type 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. Nevertheless, 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 inventive journey that was actually sucking me up by taking every little thing from me. So after one 12 months 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, images, video, set up, writing. How do you select a medium? Is all of it primarily based in your inspiration at a particular level of time?   

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

Truly, it’s somewhat the opposite approach round. I don’t select to work with a particular medium. It’s the medium that chooses me! Once I wish to discover a particular topic, the most effective medium to precise my concept typically imposes itself in a daring approach. There may be nothing I can resist right here. Whereas I pleasurably give approach to the decision of this particular medium, another concepts might come alongside the way in which to precise a barely completely different nuance of the identical topic by means of one other medium. It’s a bit like taking a look at an object from varied angles.

Beginning with conventional mediums akin to ink or clay, I prefer to function a type 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 also 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 way in which that it engages the viewer to resonate instantly with the paintings.  

You’re greatest identified to your ink bodyscapes and to 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 method lies in processes involving traces and prints. It displays very a lot how every little thing we’re going by means of 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 accommodates. I prefer to see the physique as a territory to discover — inside and outside.

Our physique is the one instrument we’ve 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 interior worlds as I consider that our intimate universe is way wider than the planet we stay on.

Utilizing writing can also be very a lot associated to reminiscence in the way in which that it’s a instrument to inform tales from the previous and to make your voice heard. It has one thing to do with heritage and the concept of transmitting one thing from one era to a different. Personally, I additionally see the act of writing as a type of reminiscence electrocardiogram, recording our emotional state at a particular 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 studio
Picture: Marina Oechsner de Coninck

I’d outline particular person reminiscence because the sum of non-public recollections one might have whereas collective reminiscence refers extra to our widespread historical past. I believe our particular person reminiscence may be very influenced by our collective one and reciprocally. I’m notably excited about observing how each points of reminiscence affect our intimacies, and the way they intrude with our physique’s illustration. For example, how, as a girl and as a result of 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 every day lives, from the way in which we use vogue to the way in which we work together with each other.

Or for example, even when there isn’t a colonial previous in my household and even when I’m not British, as a white girl dwelling 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 extremely troublesome to flee them. Latest scientific research present how a lot our behaviours may be pushed by them.

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

You retain exploring the affect of displacement on the way in which 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 de facto on the core of my inventive 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 way in which 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. Identical 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 surroundings are additionally very current in your artwork. The place did this give attention to nature got here from?

The connection between people and nature got here extra lately in my observe. It occurred whereas I began to randomly choose up branches that fall down from sure palm bushes on Singapore’s streets. They seem like mini bushes with none roots. I used to be notably excited about exploring how one thing may develop and broaden 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 might be seen as considered one of our most historic roots. As people, it’s most likely essentially the most common hyperlink we’ve in the way in which that it’s taller than our cultural variations. Over the previous century, we’ve completely uncared for this hyperlink, believing that nature might be submissive like an object. We forgot that nature is an alive entity. We forgot that we’re certain with this entity by means of 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 might quickly turn 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 gives an outstanding mirror to have a look at your self and I hope that my artwork invitations folks to reconnect with themselves and with their interior world.

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

This can be a huge query. Primarily, I’d say that the artist is the one who is ready to be completely current on the earth 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 images class. The awarded {photograph} known as “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 below the sunshine of softness.

I’m notably moved as a result of this award not solely crowns three years of inventive analysis about femininity, but it surely 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 modern femininities.

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

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

My ongoing tasks comprise a big sculpture I plan to develop in the middle of 2022. I can 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 mission 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 will probably be collaborating within the Pulse Awards exhibition that’s going to be held in Bangkok till March. The {photograph} will probably be auctioned to profit Basis for Life charity to assist the testing and remedy of people and communities for HIV.

I’m additionally very completely happy to announce my participation in a gaggle exhibition that will probably be organised by Intersections in March 2022 in Singapore with EHL Campus. I’m very excited to work with Singaporean artists I love quite a bit akin to Jason Lim and Mona Choo and I’ve a few different thrilling tasks 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 count on to see from you at Fauna Allegoria?

Throughout Fauna Allegoria, guests will see 4 images from my pure reminiscence collection. These artworks query our forgotten relationship with nature. They characterize a community of branches practically petrified on a background evoking a spread of mountains, rifts and faults that may be seen because the folds of our minds. I can 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’d say the Singapore Nationwide Museum for elevating points relating to identification, historical past and reminiscence. I had been notably 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 effectively.

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

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

In the event you have 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 just a few extra who play a task in my inventive pantheon, I’d 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. Undoubtedly 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. Observe Hélène Le Chatelier’s Instagram: @helenelechatelier

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