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Building on her last Wellington Exhibition Me, Myself & Monet,  Helen Keen’s latest collection of works Depth of Fields further explores her love of impressionism, combining a sense of nostalgia with her own  contemporary approach to art making.

Keen’s Encaustic works fuse hundreds of strokes in molten wax to form impressions of  “floral fields” and landscapes. Refined colour palettes emerge through many layers of wax creating an ethereal haze as if the viewer is recalling a distant memory.

A further nod to the past are found in some of the pieces that incorporate small collaged portraits by master artists of the 1800-1900 period, such as Eva Gonzales, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Petrus Christus. The portraits, previously front and centre in the original works, now recede in Keen’s compositions where they are obscured and partially hidden amongst the field of pixelated colour. The familiar women become mysterious and intriguing, gazing directly at the viewer through a veil of wax,  inviting us to reimagine them, set in a new context of time and place.

“Essentially I consider myself a story teller exploring subtle nuances that unfold and reveal through time and observation.”

Originally an acclaimed ceramic artist, Helen Keen’s painting techniques emerged from this foundation. Developed over 35 years of arts practice, Keen manipulates texture using Encaustic Wax, mixed media, acrylic and oil, exploring abstraction, colour, gestures and mark making. Helen currently works from her home and studio in West Auckland. Keen aims to explode the senses with smell, touch and colour, She invites you to explore the intricacies of these open ended works, adding your own layers of narrative and emotion through your imagination.

Encaustic wax is my passion… it’s an incredible material – not commonly used and made from beeswax and tree resin – it is unpredictable – which I love. The process is the ‘driver’ in my art practice – the unpredictability and nature of the wax and what happens during the heating stage underpins my interest to blend colours, create textures and expressions, reveal, cover and uncover, scratch and sgraffito, embed and transfer images and objects.

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