Helen Beard’s stark colour-fields of female sexual experience are a thrilling celebration of carnal desire. Their surfaces are replete with rich textures that mimic the supple contours of the human body. Although sourced from pornographic images, Beard’s work is far from crude: her polychromatic palette pieces together interlocking blocks of flesh, resulting in a tactile and joyous tangle of erotic fantasy.
Beard’s works lie between abstraction and representation, reducing figures to vibrant fields of colour. Through this joyous use of bright colouring, Beard seeks to reclaim depictions of the body and of the sexual from the predominant male perspective. These are explicit works that unreservedly depict sex, encouraging the viewer to engage with the subject without embarrassment or reserve. Using her knowledge of cinematography, Beard employs tight angles and close crops of the body when framing her works in order to portray the act of sex with a striking level of intimacy. Beard’s works also emphasise the importance of sexual inclusivity by portraying the diversity of sexuality, allocating attention to experiences that are often censored by the mainstream. As such, Beard’s works celebrate humankind’s innate fascination with sex without any sense of shame.
In the studio with Helen Beard, 2019
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Birmingham in 1971, Helen Beard studied at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design. After graduating, Beard went on to have a 15-year career as a wardrobe stylist and assistant art director in the film industry. She continued her artistic practise alongside her career, working in diverse mediums including paint, collage and needlepoint. Since 2000, Beard has exhibited in numerous group shows in London. After discovering her work on social media, Damien Hirst invited Beard to take part in two group exhibitions at his space, the Newport Gallery, in 2017 and again in 2018. Following the success of these exhibitions, Beard took part in Unit London’s group exhibition, 21st Century Women. The artist presented with Unit London again in 2019 with her first solo exhibition with the gallery entitled, It’s Her Factory. In 2020, Beard offered her first international solo exhibition at Reflex in Amsterdam. In 2021, she participated in a solo exhibition with Paul Stolper in London.