Visually exciting – bright, dynamic and voyeuristic – the work of British artist Helen Beard wields colour, texture and abstraction as tools to take back ownership of sexual imagery from the predominantly male gaze. Beard’s work explores themes relating to gender, sexual psychology and eroticism, forever unapologetic in her depictions of female desire.
Cover photo: © Helen Beard
After graduating in 1992, artist Helen Beard did several styling and art direction jobs in the film industry. Despite these freelance jobs, she has always created art on the side. These jobs were for good reason, as turned out in Beard’s eye for cinematic compositions featuring close-ups and interesting angles. They reveal her past experience as a stylist and assistant art director in the film industry.
The Desire Path
While Beard’s artistic practice encompasses different mediums, The Desire Path focuses on painting. It features work in a diversity of sizes, ranging from small studies to large-scale canvasses. The artist’s small acrylic on board works function as preliminary studies for her oil on canvas paintings, in which she instinctively chooses the colours for her compositions.
Against the vigour and excitement of the artist’s choice of subject matter and palette, the strokes of paint return a touch of tenderness to the abstract scenes. By doing so, they’ve created a fascinating tension that celebrates humankind’s instinctual fascination with sex, as well as its life-affirming nature.
The Desire Path is Beard’s first exhibition outside of the UK and marks the start of her representation at Reflex Amsterdam for the Benelux. On occasion of the exhibition, the gallery is publishing Beard’s first monograph including an essay by Matt Carey-Williams.