If we had to trace a red line between two very different works like those of Elena Helfrecht and Mathilde Nardone, that would be Nature.
Placed on the blurring line between violence and fragility, the works of these two artists seem to share a common will to get into the most obscure and intimate meanders of reality with the aim to capture its most essential components.
For the Belgian artist, Mathilde Nardone, approaching a very classical theme like that of still life (which literally means unmoving, silent nature) through the most modern medium of the scanner, allows her to challenge that idea of motionless and finiteness typically associated to this type of art, in order to bring the invisible dimension back to the image’s pulsing, living heart.
Underneath the choice of reproducing pictures of flowers and other natural elements, founded on the Belgian coal mines’ soils, is the intention to interrogate those elements in order to squeeze an essence out of them and try to sew up those invisible threads which keep together the story of a family with that of a whole wandering generation seeking for a better future.
Collective memory plays a very important role in determining the meaning of these artworks. Like a modern version of the camera obscura, the only partial control of the final picture offered by the medium of the scanner is what allows the spectator to recall some analogies with that involuntary resurface of events typical of a purely proustian idea of memory.
Characterised by an initial focus on natural themes and settings, Elena Helfrecht’s artistic experience also evolved into embracing the complexity of the human dimension.
Right at the core of an artistic imaginary rooted in the landscapes and settings of the black forest in Bavaria, the observer is confronted with the imposing strength of a gaze landing on the objects in the attempt to reach the heart of a not immediately accessible reality.
The fragility of Nature, even of human nature, reveals in these pictures its whole regenerative and transformative power, a power which, seems to benefit from this silent and intimate descendent into the remotest and darkest dimensions of being in order to find the necessary push for its own implementation.
Example of metamorphosis and mixtures between different worlds, Elena Helfrechts’ photographies allude to a reality where body and nature seem to share the same fluid materiality in the very special moment they find themselves very close to another.