Memories and dreams are not only matters of the mind; they are tied to objects and sites. Yet, the body is also a repository of shared histories and memories, which is the point of exploration in Helen Beard's new series of works. Here, she explores the physical experience of recollection when standing at the cusp of a new season. Reflex is pleased to present the artist's second solo exhibition with the gallery, opening 12 November 2022.
Beard's practice explores the body as a geography of touch. Lips meet lips, a torso rests on the body beneath it, hands stroke the back of a neck. Skin on skin is depicted in thick layers of oil paint applied in rhythmic strokes. The framing remains cinematic, moving elegantly from intimately detailed shots to entire mise-en-scènes of dynamic hues. In the exhibition, The Tulips are too Excitable, it is Winter Here, Beard takes her audiences on a journey where colour is an evocative tool for navigation.
Inspired by Pablo Picasso's blue period, the artist introduces the colour in a patchwork of tones to divide the space of the paintings. In Lipsing (2022), two profiles collide at the nose in a composition of navy and turquoise, contrasted by a bold yellow. In another work, Though Lovers Be Lost, Love Shall Not (2022) the multiple shades of blue demand the audience to stay with the work longer to comprehend the content. Though inspired by Picasso's undeniable melancholy, Beard remains devoted to electrifying notions of yearning and desire and the beautifully orchestrated monochromatic topographies indicate a heightened sensibility in the new works.
Also premiering at the show is a collection of tondi rendered in neon. In Need To Be Held (2022), two pairs of hands wrap around the back of a head, outlined in a fluorescent coral hue: The colour-work mirrors the overwhelming impression of vast fields of tulips. Beard reminds us that spring cannot be called off as she sprinkles hope across the exhibition in bright yellows, lilacs, and spring greens. Anticipating new beginnings, the landscape of bodily encounters manifests a period of transformation.
Overall, Helen Beard masterfully presents us with a map of remembrance. Each painted scene functions like a memory: They are slightly warped, iridescent with emotion, and colourfully reworked by our minds. Adjusting to a compass of hues, the work leads us optimistically towards the future in broad hopeful strokes.
Helen Beard studied at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design and went on to have a 15-year career as an assistant art director in the film industry. Since 2000, she has exhibited in numerous group shows, including Simulation Skin and True Colours at Newport Street Gallery. Solo shows include It's Her Factory at UNIT London and her first international exhibition, The Desire Path at Reflex Amsterdam. Helen's work has recently been translated into a series of silkscreen prints, respectively produced with UNIT Drops, Paul Stolper Gallery, and Reflex Amsterdam.
Press release courtesy Reflex Amsterdam.