The Russian artist Kandinsky was fascinated by the mysterious force and universal context of geometric objects. He worked in his theoretical texts "Über das geistige in der Kunst" from 1912 on the spirituality in art, and in 1926 he published the book "Punkt und Linie zu Fläche" at the Bauhaus School.

Kandisky worked with what the French philosopher Michel Henry calls "absolute subjectivity" or "absolute phenomenological life." In fact Kandinsky attaches values to his geometric shapes and colours by tirelessly observing how the moods, feelings and associations of his creations on the canvas expres themselves.

In a similar manner, Hanne Helms’ images evoke reminiscents of moods and feelings. In her work no figuration is recognized that can give us a clue about narrative and content. Instead, the paintings are tightly built up in a systematics of lines that cross each other, are held together by hubs, balance and break up. The colours are used compositionally and keep the shapes onto the canvas, or they take care that he shapes and lines actually disappear far beyond the surface.

With Kandinsky’s studies of shape and colour and their relationship to the canvas in mind, we can attribute significance  to Helms' form elements depending on the cultural and personal baggage we carry with us in the meeting with her pictures. But as Michel Henry says, the individual meeting and experience with art is always deeply subjective. Perhaps hereafter we can negotiate a common experience of Hanne Helms' works anyway?

When you look at the evolution of Helms' work it beats you  immediately that there is a cult of rigor. The works are an antithesis to the American abstract expressionism with its big gestures and the clear presence of the artist (as minimalists found spurious). Helms' works, however, are almost industrial in their precision.

In her recent paintings Hanne Helms has loosened up the "dogma" of tightness and large expanses of thinly applied paint goes in and plays along with the open and closed structures created by the broad lines. The works are looser and freer with the paint transparency, and the industrial terms have now been replaced by a more open reflection. Helms says "In my universe, I now  increasingly describe the imprints and construction of life, where I used to occupy myself much more with construction from a mechanical and functional point of view".

And this is where we will find the relevance to the present that these works possess. The paintings clearly show that they are a part of a larger reality. It is obvious that the paintings are intended, as a part of something bigger. They are not enough in themselves, but are related to a larger community outside the picture plane. There is a focus on some connections ,  on some structures or on some jumps from one living environment to another, which means that we can relate to Helms' abstraction of human interaction and organisation of human life.

One of the many levels on which the paintings can be read, according to Kandinsky´s work with attributing shapes and colors different values, is the timeliness they offer simultaneously. In the underlining of the fragmented world - to insist on being part of something bigger - exactly that allows us to reflect on the great reality and the universal context.

Christina Wilson, 2015

Art Historian





Knowing the nuance and keeping the balance - artist Hanne Helms

By Trine Rytter Andersen, 2013

Hanne Helms originally comes from the tapestry weaver profession with its care and requirement of technical skills. During the recent years, she has distinguished herself in the visual art scene with her emblematic abstract compositions. Here she examines what it takes in the compositional sense to keep the balance on the canvas. Helms is systematic and consistent. Typically, her images are arrangements of varying complexity, dealing with the meeting between vertical and horizontal stripes, united in gentle collisions which instead of disorder establishes peace and balance in an otherwise chromatic and powerful surface painting.

There are natural rules for balance. These are reflected in the images along with the dogma that if balance is to be maintained the following rules apply: All courses meet the edge of the image or a different course perpendicularly. All progress is horizontal or vertical. The courses can not cross each other's path, they end when facing a different course.

The pictures look like diagrams and the elements like tubular courses - they could be cables or ducts that connect and act as links, stabilisers or transportation carriers. In the painting they are transformed into a kind of 'barcode' that represents them, whereby they appear as abstract coupled processes in two dimensions. The tubular shape is an optical illusion. It is therefore important that the meeting points do not appear as clutches of tubes but merely as places where courses meet and balance is established. Helms in this way visualises the meaning of relating and the importance of connecting on an abstract level.

The colour is equally seen as a diagram, which in practice means working with colour as a function: The colours act as agents that classify the courses. It is not about colour harmonies but about what the colours do to each other. How they highlight, reject or support each other. The colours are chosen from the gradient status in the composition, they coordinate according to  meaning, strength, size and direction.

Hanne Helms is a perfectionist and her pictures are genuine craft that takes a long time to make. She plays and experiments within the framework of a system which both defines and characterises her work. The many hours concentrated in the studio has developed her sense of shades so that it is the premature viewer superior. It is therefore necessary for the viewer to slow down in front of the work to take it properly in view. Then you will discover that the impression of the images change depending on the distance they are seen from and that in the apparently straight lines there is a slight trembling and a shading or transparency in the colour layers which in a warm and poetic manner contradicts the immediate mechanical expression.