On the cover: L’impatience 4 by Helena Pallarés
I often start a collage with an abstract concept, something like nostalgia or doubt or uncertainty, that is looming large in my life at the time. I made this series a few months before the pandemic started, when I began to gently reap what I had sown in my career for many years. I felt impatient to see all that work and those efforts at last bring some concrete results. Although it could also describe the impatience of someone waiting out a pandemic in a 40-square-metre apartment in Paris!
Why did you move to Paris?
It was the classic reason – for love. And of course it’s also a very inspiring city and it was an opportunity to develop as an artist. I didn’t speak a word of French when I arrived and it was hard at the beginning; it can be a tough city to live in. But I think it has made me stronger and less naive, and it has certainly changed my collages – the colours have become brighter, the forms harder and more geometrical, and I have stopped working with components cut out from old magazines and started to concentrate just on paper and handmade drawings.
You make a lot of collages of people. How do you pick your subjects?
They are always people who have captivated me and impacted me in some way. As a kind of personal homage, I did a series on French artists who created the music and films which helped me to learn French and to get to know and adapt in some way to the culture when I came to Paris. The first portrait I did was of Serge Gainsbourg. And then there are other people like David Bowie, my great musical love since I was a teenager, who are just important to me.
What was it like being an artist during the pandemic?
I found it hard. I spent a lot of time – a little too much, at the beginning – on social media, where everybody seemed to be very performative and very artistically active, which made me feel confused. But I didn’t feel any inspiration or desire to create. I just felt that I needed to think about everything that was going on, to sit and take some time and breathe, to be calm, to be quiet, to read, to listen. I found I was in an introspective mood, not an active one, which was frustrating at first, but eventually I understood that it was just what I needed.
How do you feel about social media?
I was hooked on it for almost five years. Unfortunately for an artist it is almost compulsory because if you aren’t present on social media you practically don’t exist. But everything that has happened with the pandemic has made me reflect a lot about how we trust too much in the power of social networks, abandoning ourselves to them. Social networks can distance and isolate us and during the pandemic lockdowns it became clear to me how important it is to know people in reality, to physically go to places, to feel things in a real and material way. Instinctively I moved away from networks to the point where I don’t have to rely on them any more.
Can social media influence the way you create your art?
Of course – that’s why it’s so dangerous. It can unconsciously lead you to follow the line dictated by the algorithm, which is ultimately the one making the decisions.
What’s next for you?
That’s a question I’m asking myself at the moment, but I don’t have an answer yet. Over the last year I’ve been developing an interest in audiovisual collage, making experimental artistic videos. I’m something of a frustrated musician and it allows me to mix music with art, which I find exciting, so I’m quite focused on that now.
To see more of Helena’s work, visit helenapallares.com. Her collages are available for purchase at saatchiart.com/helenapallares
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