|By Bent Petersen, editor of “North”, Art Magazine
Hellen Lassen does, as an artist, follow her own special ways, largely unaffected by any trend, which makes her pictures strangely timeless as well as hard to label or fit into a frame of Art History. Neither does external influences seem to have a great influence. The images comes from within like dreams – like messages from the subconscious, often of an erotic, sometimes mythical, almost shamanistic in character.
The erotic has always had a prominent place in Hellen Lassen´s world of images, often in the shape of sketchy stylized naked bodies or scenes of sexual intercourse, but this is less explicit in her newer work. It manifests itself in a suggestive manner like for instance a naked woman’s body within a male-like figure, which in its crooked angularity leads the thought to cave paintings or Egyptian sarcophagi.
The images enter as figurative elements in a largely abstract painting, – at least apparently. The large areas of paint can also be seen as tapestries, covering hidden, finished and later over-painted figures, which almost transform them into layers of consciousness. Words are a prominent element in many of the paintings, thereby giving hints of diary pages, sketches, notes or communication – of intellectual work.
The pictures are surface paintings without the depth of perspective, but a step-like structure sometimes gives them a certain spatial character, a falling movement, like the many layers of the paintings as well as the elements of collage give an impression of depth, the awareness of something hidden and of a passing of time – something gone before. This impression is enhanced by the artist leaving the pictures frameless, raw – almost unfinished exposing the underlying layers.
By a special technique involving two-components glue the artist has obtained an effect of near transparency by an almost collage-like melting between the canvas and the figures cut out of paper. A mixture of acryllic, oil, asphalt and shellac gives the paintings a tight and materialistic, sometimes almost pastos character. The colours are restrained, earthlike.
The last few years Hellen Lassen has been travelling a lot in India, and the impressions from these journeys have manifested themselves in her pictures, for example in the use of a dense red colour, which dominates a number of the newer paintings. This also goes for the pattern-like structures that are often a part of the paintings for example as dots of color or the rows of jars, which enter into some of them.
There is at the same time something dynamic and meditative about Hellen Lassen’s art, something externally communicating as well as internally watching or remembering, something directly sensed as well as intellectually strongly processed. Her pictures are thoroughly worked over in a slow process, though at the same time containing the lightness and casualness of the sketch, and they are clearly the expressions of the joy of working with pictures and a desire for experimenting with both form and expression as well as materials and techniques.