FIG, Suite D2
Exhibition Dates: May 22 - June 15
The work of Helen Desmond is exuberantly eye-catching and a rollicking good time. From a baby’s butt to a grimacing Trump, Desmond’s images are in your face and unforgettable. Taking in her paintings is a rollercoaster ride that juxtaposes humor and terror, tenderness and rage. Her paintings will have you one moment giggling with glee and the next outraged by the horrors around us. Yet, even in her most serious moments her playful spirit shines through. Desmond is clearly moved by the political upheaval of our times, but more importantly, she reminds us all to find time for the things that really matter in life.
“Emotion is the determinative force in my painting. It generates what I paint and how I paint it. A painting may begin with my spontaneous reaction to a specific finite moment which for some reason grabs me and demands to be painted. This was the case with the paintings of my granddaughters. Certain candid photos just called out to me to be painted. The painting of father and daughter hanging over the edge of a pier was a scene I came upon and captured first on film before painting it. Other paintings like Newtown and the political paintings rise from my attempt to emotionally process and metabolize a historical “moment”. I begin by researching relevant stock photos from the news and selecting those which strike me. Playing with these photos helps me develop a preliminary sketch.
“As I begin work on the painting more and more the painting itself begins to take over and the final result that emerges can be something quite different from what I set out to paint. This is where spending time just sitting with the painting and looking at it comes in. A conversation begins between myself and the painting. Sometimes what I set out to paint just has to be abandoned. At other times what began as a minor element starts to take over the painting. As the basic form of the painting takes shape, matters of technique begin to take center stage. For example, with MAGA 2018 once I realized that a deteriorating Mount Rushmore needed to be looking down on the images below, it seemed a modified black and white transfer could best express this. It was at that moment that the oil painting I set out to paint became a mixed media work. These “decisions” I make as I paint are primarily intuitive responses to what I see as I paint or look at the painting.
“So for me, painting is a process of discovery. My spontaneous reactions to what I see determine this journey while my knowledge and experience sit in the background quietly influencing my responses.”