Artwork by Hélène Delmaire

by Grace Bonney

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Watching millions of people across the globe gather to march for women’s rights was incredibly inspiring to me for a wide range of reasons. There were so many wonderful moments of unity and understanding, but there were also moments of conflict, differences of opinion and spaces where real discussions needed to happen about how women communicate with and about each other. It got me thinking a lot about women in fine art — the way we’re depicted and the way we depict ourselves. I’ve been paying a lot of attention to female-identified painters lately and how they choose to depict women in their work. French artist Hélène Delmaire caught my eye last week because her work raises so many questions, at least in my eyes, about the way women are painted and what is revealed or kept covered.

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Hélène’s work has such a great sense of texture and color and uses bold, abstract swaths of paint to sometimes cover the figures’ eyes or faces. Her work makes me think about beauty, sexism and the ways in which women are censored or expected to be, act or talk a certain way. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the color palettes she works in are stunning. I found myself going back to her Instagram feed over and over again to indulge in the rich pinks, purples and greens she uses. You can check out more of Hélène Delmaire’s work online here at her website or here on her Instagram feed (which updates more frequently than her main website). I’d love to hear your take on her work and what it says to you. xo, grace


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  • I love these! The brushwork is gorgeous. That she couples this lush painterly quality with a sly commentary on the controls society places — or attempts to place — on women is fabulous. Thanks for introducing her work to me.

  • I am expecting the comments to her artwork to be wide and varied, based on an individuals perceptions, life experiences and what they hold dear. Her images bring out a number of responses in me. The first image of the woman with her eyes covered resonates strongly with me as it represents the world we live in. We have eyes to see with but yet mankind chooses to be blind. And every single person, myself included, is guilty of this. There are so many issues facing this beautiful planet that society ignores. We are so busy living our own separate lives that we do not even stop to ponder upon or consider the impact of our daily actions on others or this planet. For me, the environment is a passion as the key foundations for life are quality air, water and soil. Without these, there can be no life. And, sadly, the world has destroyed it’s air, water and soil quality. How many of us even stop to consider the impact that our cleaning products, our cosmetics, our packaging, the way we grow food etc has on our planet. I am a mother and I worry about this beautiful planet that is our home and the inheritance we will leave our children and future children and I fear that the burden that they will have to endure will be great because we have eyes to see with and yet we do not.

    • Sorry, it was the third image that I spoke about, not the first. Actually, the woman in the first image represents to me a world that is blinded to its problems and the anguish and torment that occur as a result. And, my first reaction to the second image is that of a world drowning. A world engulfed in so many problems that it is struggling to cope and find resolutions. Dark or bleak my responses may be but there are numerous problems that our world faces and often people prefer to be anaesthetised against them – out of sight out of mind.

      • hey SS, I’m so glad my work evokes this kind of response in you. It’s an issue I’m terribly concerned with and I think a direct cause of these paintings, though they’re a mixture of different feelings.

  • Dear Grace,
    your posts are uncredibly inspiring to me. I am French and I did not know about Hélène Delamaire. Thank you!

    I have been following your blog for years. Design must fit with the new trends. This what I find here. You do not only “speak about design”, you give a personal view and smart links with our society trends. I also appreciated your posts about the real tips when you manage your own business. When I read your posts, I read sincere feelings and relevant analysis.

    Keep inspiring us! Karine, France, Brittany

  • French artist Hélène Delmaire caught my eye last week because her work raises so many questions, at least in my eyes, about the way women are painted and what is revealed or kept covered. really