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Fleur Helluin : Portrait of the digital age

Text by Sarah Allingham. The French artist Fleur Helluin researches on the representation of the figure in the digital age through portraits of close and unknown people. She represents the Face Swaps, Panoramic Fails, or friends and random internet people, lighted by the very contemporary light of the computer screen. In 2004, she went to Taïwan as an exchange student, realized how much the screen was a part of our life and started working on the subject.

Of course now 13 years later, we’re basically one with the smartphone, so her visual research was really visionary. Helluin proposes a fresh take on the digital imagery by interpreting it through the lens of painting. Her works have been the subject of articles by digital anthropologist Fanny George from the Sorbonne University in Paris. The medium of painting itself is pushed into physical extremes between porous primers, thick bold layers, shiny varnishes and delicate depictions of the human complexion.

Influenced by K-Pop and Giorgone, Helluin’s works are living paradoxes like a mix-match game of visual references. The subject of painting is sometimes more the medium than the portrait, repeating images like a Photoshop cut&paste, presenting a different angle like a failed panoramic, or abstract patterns clashing like a 90’s.

Her work is complex and challenging, and she’s probably the most innovative French painter since the Impressionists. She shares the love of Normandy in France with the famous painters, as she studied there and lives today between Berlin and Normandy. Helluin also collaborated with archaeologists on specific projects linked to sites. This summer, she will be in residency with the team of Jean-Jacques Hublin at the Max-Planck Institute in Leipzig before heading to Mexico for another part of the Art’chaeology project. You can check her website for more informations.