carlier | gebauer

Hélène Delprat

Exhibitions at carlier | gebauer

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Corinne Rondeau
Extracts from « L’univers est la cendre d’un dieu mort »
published in the exhibition’s catalogue co-published by Fage and La maison rouge



Hélène Delprat’s art is the realm of fantastical, impenetrable beings, a procession of surprises, disorientations, excess, and small, simple things, of odds and ends, of memories of cinema, theatre, paintings and pop songs. On the way, shadows and silhouettes, mannequins, the gates of haunted castles, stairways leading nowhere or other images: mysterious corridors, fun-house doors and mirrors, pictures like caves peopled with hybrid beings. An open path: we don’t know where it is leading ’cos there’s always a tree hiding the forest, the anger of a goddess, a marvellous detail in the middle of a corruption, a naughty hint of truancy. “It is the unknown that frightens,” repeats a voice, and the exhibition begins. To start with, you need to love mystery, disquiet and have the desire to go and see what is on the other side. And, most of the time, enjoy finding something other than what you were looking for, as in The Three Princes of Serendip. If it is not the simple devaluation of the known, the unknown is the experience of a world reigned over by dreams and that speaks only of death. Like what Heurtebise says in L’Orphée by Jean Cocteau: “I am bringing you the secret of secrets, mirrors are the doors through which death comes and goes.” (...) “Destroying painting” to make it into a painting to be seen starts with killing off that old (and not dead) distinction. Delprat does this profusely, unafraid to darken reason and its certainties. And yet she is not unreasonable. She is like a juicer, an ogre of limitless appetite. For her the encyclopaedic form is a way of fanning the forge of her art, in which the fire derives from the positive, poetic meaning of the verb “to forge”: to create and make. The metal that she fashions in the middle of her desert is extracted from paintings, films, reproductions, museums and Internet databases, and takes in the Julies Maciet collection at the Bibliothèque des Arts Décoratifs, DVDs, gardens in Florence and Rome, and the cafés of Pigalle. Delprat never talks about her painting. She is always out on the edge, on the lookout. Her choices are never gratuitous, they follow her taste, and the worst is always an eventuality, like anything else. Everything is classified. The delimited territory of the encyclopaedia grows richer by the day. The spirit is lively, incisive. The gaze incises, photocopies, scans, classifies. She then brings out a few of these pieces that are pieces no more for having lost their place of origin, once reproduction techniques have played their pandering role.