VISUAL artist Helen Teede’s latest exhibition titled Cocoon is an exposition of paintings and installations that reveal the artist’s mind at work.
The candid voice speaking through her work shows the artist’s confidence in her own instincts.
Equally, the viewer is inspired to open up and allow their own instincts to guide them in unpacking the psychological and spiritually engaging presentation.
A readily noticeable detail in the new work is the prominence of text. Embedded in the abstract canvas, pages from anonymous books are validated by their status derived from published sources.
The contrast of printed words against a painted surface allows the text to stand out and grab the viewers’ attention.
In official classified documents it is usually the important and sensitive parts that are redacted. In Teede’s work the idea is inverted so that what the viewer gets is the valuable information.
Redaction of the appropriated material is an act of subversion on the artist’s part, as the document no longer represents what it was meant to by the original publisher.
In some of the work, text is scrawled in an autodidact way that lends a sense of mystery to the message. The introduction of text into artwork is a deliberate action that signals the artist’s intention to engage with the viewer.
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The title of the exhibition may suggest isolation and introversion.
The term literally describes a silk case spun by an insect to protect itself. It is commonly referenced in association with the caterpillar which when it emerges from its cocoon it would have been transformed into a butterfly.
In this exhibition the word also takes the sense of an idea that has been held within, but is now generously shared.
It would be a stretch to suggest that the artist was sort of coming out of her own cocoon. Teede’s previous exhibitions have always included work that intimately explored the personal.
What the current exhibition proves is that the artist is constantly undergoing a process of transformation. Cocoon exhibition offers a radically personal viewpoint that reveals the individual beyond the façade of a visual artist.
Several abstract nudes in a series titled Research leave the viewer intrigued by their eroticism and another series titled Feral Girls is a sensitive study of trauma for women who seem to have been through unspecified difficult experiences.
Cocoon one, two and three, revel in the different forms in shape and colour that cocoons are created, which may allude to wider social implications.
Eclipse, Initiation and Homage to Camoni are installations with material objects that emit natural energy.
The symbolic objects in the installations have mesmerizing details but demand more from the viewer to decipher their meaning in that context.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is an interesting installation titled Stone Circle which is made from found rocks on steel stands.
The nine large rocks mounted in a circle have different shapes and varying textures that mirror the abstraction on the canvases against the wall.
The arrangement in a circle is suggestive of a portal for ancient rituals.
Teede told NewsDay Life & Style that all the rocks were sourced from Helensvale where she resides. Stone Circle creates an ambience of having the outdoors brought inside. Even though viewers did not seem to spend too much time studying the rocks, it could have been because the work’s visceral impact is immediately felt before the viewer applies effort to unpack the scene.
Cocoon shows Teede purposefully brushing aside the aloof self-absorbed studio artist stereotype.
Her works are created in collaboration with nature, and for communion with an audience.
Standing in front of an artwork the viewer feels their presence acknowledged, and that their attention is welcome.
The vibe was matched by the artist’s deportment as she interacted with guests during the opening event at First Floor Gallery, Harare.
The show is authentic and refreshing in perspective.
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