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Hélène Baril was born in 1978 in Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, France. She is based in Paris. She has been working as a French language teacher after getting a MA in literature, quit her job, got a BA in fine arts, has been working in a bookstore as a co-manager, has been painting in a studio before turning into a professional housepainter. Housepainter: a slightly provocative qualification that goes for rejecting the idea of getting the “painter” label, or even the “mixed-media artist” label. In 2011 Hélène Baril is awarded as best artist of the year at arteles international residency, Finland- country where she ‘s been living over a year. That is where she starts her housepainter career. That is also where she kept up developing her racing car tale, allowing her to combine visual art, literature, economics and social matters. Finland thus became homeland, fantasyland, research land. Baril ’s recurrent representations of automobile are the idols and relics of a tale in search of absolute. The artist repaints her car over the course of encounters, thus adding a performing value to her work. She has been playing with Martini Racing’s logo and colors and she is now dealing with the representation of the Shell brand- both as a personal and collective project, called SBK. Hélène Baril ’s work can be seen as a sabotage of reality ‘s undertaking – or more gently and accurately, a fairy tale -, aiming at confusing reality and fiction worlds.
Why does it disturb us that Don Quixote be a reader of the Quixote and Hamlet a spectator of Hamlet? I believe I have found the reason: These inversions suggest that if the character of a fictional work can be readers or spectators, we, its readers or spectators, can be fictitious. In 1833, Carlyle observed that the history of the universe is an infinite sacred book that all men write and read and try to understand, and in which they are also written.
Jorge Luis Borges, Partial Magic in the Quixote
Chacun de nous doit avoir une métaphysique récréative propre, car chacun de nous est chacun de nous.
Alvaro de Campos
(CAR CRASHES IS WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN)
Hélène Baril's work intend to fix painting in both an ordinary and alternate reality. She sees herself as a housepainter so painting can be a tool that serves her sabotage of reality's undertaking. The recurrent racing cars appearing in her drawings are the vehicle of some kind of contemporary Don Quixote. It is a way of creating a fiction that brings up to stage search of absolute and ludicrous disillusion.
Le travail d'Hélène Baril souhaite ancrer la peinture dans une réalité à la fois triviale et « autre ». Elle se voit comme un peintre en bâtiment et considère la peinture comme un outil qui sert son entreprise de sabotage du réel. Les voitures de courses récurrentes dans ses dessins sont le moyen de transport du Don Quichotte que nous sommes. Une façon de créer une fiction mettant en scène quête de l’absolu et désillusion burlesque.
I am a painter painting and building a plot against reality. The reality I am talking about is the information society we live in. We live in a book that we are unable to read because it is overflowing with images and voices, confusing the objective and the subjective, adding one information to the other. We are as lost as the Quixote and just like him, we all are a hero of the book.
I create a fictional plot, with:
-its program: rewriting art history (specifically modernist painting) and for example make painters of the 20th century heroes of car rallies. Focus on male conception of progress, be part of it, admire it and make it break down. Car crashes are also the symbol of any kind of big event that might happen, artwise and otherwise.
-its contributors: writers from a Kafkaesque tradition who consider fiction as an infinite world strictly referring to itself; writers who dig the words up, without psychology. Literature has to be considered in a popular and childish point of view, far from any kind of academic and haughty exegesis. Keeping in mind its high demand of quality. And also, contributors such as : wheelbarrows, fruits, vegetables and angry animals.
-its utopia: keep on painting and paint a lot, using different codes of modernism (geometry, gesture, picture plan, recurrent patterns and colors), playing with it by producing images with no canvas. Like the librarians of Babel in Borges story, building a paintings library. As an housepainter, I would like to extend the library to the buildings of any countryside and any city.
I am a housepainter. Painting on walls that people can live in is much more exciting than painting on dead canvas. This is Octavius the second . A friend of mine called Gaylord Brewer wrote a book entitled Octavius the first . He is an american writer. What's the common point between writing and painting on walls ? Those are both heroic attitudes. Just like being a romanian emperor or a butcher in the contemporary countryside.