Hi everyone, here it is one more interview of our series. This month I had the great opportunity to talk to French photographer Hélène Desplechin. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I preparing it.
When was your first contact with art?
In my childhood. I remember that seeing a painting could touch me deeply, some of those paintings are in my mind, saved with the feeling they produced in me.
Who introduced you to art?
I would say life itself, since I can remember I was an image collector, all my life. I would spend hours looking for images in magazines, cutting them, organizing them. I loved drawings. I collected postcards and never got tired by looking at art and photography. My mother loved some painters and would talk about them, show them to me.
When you knew that you wanted to become an artist?
I took me a long time to really understand I was made to be an artist, even if it always has been something that I did naturally. Painting and drawing where my first loves. I was deeply moved by the great master drawings.
Who encouraged you to pursue an artistic career?
Nobody did, and it took me a lot of time to understand who I wanted to be. I followed what my parents wanted me to study, marketing, and it took me a long way to come back to art and photography.
Where have you studied art?
I never did a real art career, I studied drawing, painting and photography when I could, where I could, I am mainly autodidact.
When have you discover yourself as a professional photographer?
As I said earlier it has been a slow evolution, even if I always did take pictures it took me a long time to become a professional photographer. I stared considering myself a professional photographer once I was making a leaving out of it. I work in the Thyssen museum in Madrid as a photographer.
How do you decide between black and white photography or colour photography?
Black and white always attracted me, it is moodier I believe it is easier to pass emotion in bw, However, a picture is simply better in colour. The colours and shades come out by themselves, when they are necessary, like with in the water photography. My pictures are mainly blue or black and white.
In your photographs is common to find the presence of the water as well as reflections, like a mirror effect. Can you explain to us the importance of these elements to your work?
Water is definitively my element; it makes me feel good in a way no other elements does. Water properties fascinate me, the shape water can take, how water can distort the images of the real life, by making it softer. I particularly love how it reflects the world. When I see reflections, I call them many time the other side. Like if those reflections were opening a full new world.
I know that you are also an illustrator, can you tell us more about this other artistic side of you?
This also come from my childhood, I always loved that feeling it gives to create something on a white sheet of paper. To let the hand flow and pass the feelings one as inside his heart and mind. I exposed paintings years ago, now photography has overcome that side of my artistic life.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find my inspiration everywhere, from inside out. I constantly look for pictures. I want to reflect the world the way I see it. I want to find magic in the daily life, I want to show how poetical and beautiful anything can be. It is a way of life, going around, constantly looking for a subject, for something where I see beauty. It is a way to celebrate life. My children always say that I have a very unique way to look at life and beauty.
How would you describe your creative process?
As I said before it is a constant process, what inspires me the most is visiting new places. To go discover and to amaze my eyes. There is nothing more creative for me than to portrait a new person, a new landscape, a new town, a new tree. And other times I choose a specific emotion or feeling to work on.
Do you have a favourite among your works?
Not really. I do change a lot. But I have some of my photography that stand out by the reception they had in the public. Like the I called the tree that wanted to travel.
What are currently working on?
Lately, I am really interested about the relationship of human with nature, I want to be able to show in my pictures that deep connection. Being surrounded by nature can give us a feeling of mindfulness and belonging to something bigger than ourselves and being part of it. There is some magic in that connection, and for me it is plays an important role on the beauty of life. A picture illustrating would be “The fern leaf”.
Has the pandemic affected your work? How?
Yes, it did, in a way, because as I said before I love to explore. During those days the pictures had to be in the space of my home, which is very familiar to me. One of the challenges during the pandemic was to make the routine more beautiful by looking for poesy and beauty in my daily surrounding. I used that time to organise my files and spend more time on the computer creating series of pictures. Organizing by themes and emotions.
For further information on Hélène’s work:
All the images were kindly provided by the artist.