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Me, Myself and Monet

Paintings by Helen Keen

Preview 6 to 8pm, Thursday 4 May
On display 5 to 27 May 2023

Claude Monet described his Water Lilies series as “the illusion of an endless whole,” where, without a defining horizon or bank to enclose the waterscape, the floating patterns and imagery are able to drift and extend without barriers. Drawn to these meditative compositions and the natural environment, Helen Keen is in her very nature free flowing – exploring deeper layers and new possibilities while resisting rigid rules and boundaries.

In this exhibition, Me Myself and Monet, Helen creates her own interpretations of Monet’s Water Lilies in acrylic and discovers elements of Impressionism have found their way into her constantly evolving practice. Her latest floral series, made with ancient encaustic techniques, is painted in molten wax and blended with flame rather than by brush alone. Despite this dramatic change in method, echoes of Monet’s influence such as complex layered strokes, boundless compositions and refracting colour can be glimpsed in Helen Keen’s dreamy new works.

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.

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.