MAG The Women Gallery

Hélène Moccelin

Hélène Moccelin

Artworks By Hélène Moccelin

After spending a few years in the city, I returned to living near trees so that my youngest daughter could grow up surrounded by them.

At a certain point, without really having any other options, I got closer every day to the surrounding nature, walking our dog in the forests and by the river that runs from the mountains into the plain where we live.

I take photos, lots of photos, with all kinds of cameras – a mobile phone, a broken mobile phone, disposable cameras, cameras that are lent to me…

For me, they are mainly frames of spaces and light that serve as sketches in my painting work. Photography, like nature, connects me to moments of silence and solitude, but also sometimes to unexpected and healing encounters.

Like the horse that stopped me on a road one winter night when I got lost. I got out of my car, I was scared, he was too, I took a photo of him before alerting someone to his escape. He is the starting point of my painting that shattered.

My work is a constant dialogue with the unknown and the unpredictable that I encounter. With this horse, I had a conversation in images that lasted an entire winter, to complete this large format painting, which is the first in this new series.

Hélène Moccelin does not paint; she dreams. Of white trees that mistake themselves for nymphs or dryads; of frail silhouettes of fishermen taming the surrounding emptiness; of a house perched high yet invaded by an inner sea; of a horse that appears more human than a human…

The material of her paintings is precise and uncertain, the colors brim with reflections, obscure, luminous, the surface spreads, soft-rough, uneven, made of roughness, of hollows as well. This is how one recognizes a dream: a material, a texture, the delicacy of a veil that obstinately shows what it hides.

Here, a ghost emerges from a barely sketched landscape. There, it fades into a dense forest. Over there, it remains trapped within the frame, as if lost on the other side of life, of time. One gets the impression that these ghosts are witnesses to an invisible story – their own? See these men on the crest of a glacier. Where do they come from? Where are they going? And this couple trapped in a mirror with silvering corroded by the years, resembling a photo that seems gangrenous. Who are they? What do they tell us? The deeper one delves into the image, the thicker the mystery becomes.

Where would these visions come from if not from dreams? From a fragile memory, from buried, vanished memories. From childhood? Yes, perhaps that of which Rimbaud speaks, with “the swarm of golden flowers”, the “red road”, the “magical flowers”. The country one does not return to… Ah, if only the observer could cross the mirror!

Painting is a wound: a cut; painting is a suture: a detail. One color, red, points to the heart of the painting and the painting as a heart, an interiority that bleeds. But once again, the meaning eludes, the woman, always the same it seems, carries the secret with her. What remains is the sensation of having grazed the contours of a pain.

One day, Hélène Moccelin placed, almost concealed, her paintings in what she called her “Notebook of Images and Nights”. Selected words from poets (Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Henri Michaux…) silently accompany the shapes that subtly emerge on the paper, while a thread, red, connects the pages together. Like pieces of the same fabric: a textile – a text – to decipher. But perhaps all of this is, after all, once again, just a dream.

Roger-Yves Roche – February 2024