Four new prints available by Helen Beard, available to buy online from 10am GMT Wednesday 31 March, 2021.
“When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.” Audre Lorde ‘The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power’ 1978.
“I used to hate my work being referred to as pornographic, and also I used to hate it being referred to as erotic. I didn’t want to be pigeonholed. But I did read Audre Lorde’s essay about the power of the erotic recently, and actually, I think I’m much more comfortable with the term ‘erotic’ now, and I don’t mind that label. Because she talks about it being a lifeforce of creativity, eroticism is that, and a female lifeforce. You know, it’s what creates us all, there isn’t anything more important.”
I’VE ALWAYS LIKED MATISSE. I DID HAVE THAT IN MIND WHEN I STARTED MAKING THE WORK.
“I knew that I wanted to make a painting with a clitoris shape. Nobody knew it was that shape until really recently, I just couldn’t believe that we wouldn’t know that. I guess doctors didn’t study female anatomy, it was unimportant in a patriarchal system. It’s a lovely shape and it’s really graphic, and the minute I saw it, it made me think of those Matisse works. I wanted to make each one slightly different because all women are different. So they couldn’t be the same but I wanted to keep them as simple shapes, like Matisse’s cut outs and I did do them as cut outs to start with. The titles of my works are really important and I was making an awful lot of paintings, so it felt factory-like, and I was thinking about Warhol and The Factory and listening to that Gang of Four song ‘It’s Her Factory’ and then it just sort of seemed really relevant. It was significant that it was my factory, that it’s a woman’s.”
WOMEN WEREN’T ALLOWED TO TALK ABOUT THEIR SEXUAL DESIRES.
“It’s not demure, and it’s not how women were supposed to be seen as having that desire in them. It was really frowned upon for women to express that. I think that, only recently, a lot of women are realising that they can talk about sex. People concentrate on the fact that it’s titillating because a woman’s made work on desire. And it shouldn’t be that. The more that womem deal with the subject matter, I think it will take it away the stigma. Because we’re all humans, we’ve all got the same desires, it shouldn’t be any different for a woman to talk about this subject than a man.”
I WAS THINKING ABOUT THE RORSCHACH EFFECT, WHERE YOU MIRROR THE IMAGE.
“My most recent work: ‘If They Be Two They Are Two So’ is taken from John Donne’s poem ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’, describing the push and pull of love using the conceit of a pair of compasses. My painting focuses on the tender moment before a kiss. There is a river of negative space between the faces, I always thought of it as a river. It is my attempt at depicting this exhilarating moment, the anticipation of what is about to happen, and the overwhelming excitement of a kiss. I hope it shows the tenderness and the shiver of thrill in this split second, which has to be one of the most amazing sensations of human experience. I knew that diptych would make a good print, with that river of yellow on both sides, mirroring each other.”
THE COLOURS ARE JEWEL-LIKE
“When you get above a certain number of colours, beyond 5 or 6, it gets really difficult, and it sometimes takes ages to work it out. It’s the juxtaposition that makes the process complex. I use that intricacy to explore the sensations of having sex: the frisson between bodies is echoed in the contrast of colours. So the colours are really important, the way that they rub up against each other. I like the challenge of trying to make it work.”
HELEN BEARD PRINTS
View Helen Beard prints at Paul Stolper Gallery.