I had the pleasure of speaking with an infectiously positive and joyful French artist, Marie-Helene Piquart. She has been in the Algarve for the last seven years and has done numerous exhibitions at “The Lady in Red” Gallery in Lagoa, from 2015 to 2019. Additionally, for the last three years she has had her work exhibited at “Lago Art” Gallery, in Almancil. Speaking to her was very uplifting, which is beautifully mirrored in her art work, which I urge you to check out.

She was born in France, in the city of Orléans, and says she has “always painted and drawn since childhood and I did a few years of fine art in Paris, where I did textile creation, cinema and festival sets and then I went back to painting”. She moved to the Algarve from France with her partner because of the sunshine, so she could live in the countryside as she loves nature.

I asked her if there are times that she finds it harder to paint, even after doing it for many years and she told me she is “not always able to concentrate and I need this to be able to create my best work”. She told me she is also passionate about nature and has her garden to take care of. She does music with her partner and she only works on her paintings when she in the right headspace. I asked her what she would say to aspiring artists that wish to make this into a career and she said “the first thing is to work from your heart and to only do what gives you happiness and that is the best guide. If you follow with your head you cannot go very far, and that is not just with art.”

We talked about her art and she told me she “always tries to keep it simple, because when a painting becomes complicated, there is no longer any breathing space, and it is no longer the soul that expresses itself but the ego”. She paints what makes her happy as she believes it is a “transfer of energy”.

For a few years she did figurative painting, then switched to abstract to be even freer. She discovered monotype more than 20 years ago and it is a technique that fascinates her, the material effect resembles the rhythms of nature. One of her techniques is that she makes prints, monotypes on tissue or silk paper and layers them on her canvas and sometimes intervenes with a brush or dry pastel, finishing with varnish. I asked her what inspires her and she said she is inspired by nature, planets and cells but also by magic. Additionally, older painters have taught her a lot including Miro, Matisse, Kandinsky, Alechinsky, Nicky de Saint Phalle, Calder, Bram Van Velde and Twombly, Basquiat. Similarly, Japanese art has also inspired her through their approach. She has had a few lessons of calligraphy and it had a great influence on her work.

We went on to talk about the pandemic and how it has affected her as an artist. Most importantly, the pandemic has not deterred her from painting at home but she has found it has taken its toll in terms of selling and exhibiting her paintings. She is currently working on a project and with the pandemic permitting, in the second half of April she will be exhibiting her work at the Armazém Regimental de Lagos. Her paintings share the best parts of herself as she wishes to share this light with others.

If you are interested in seeing her beautiful textured paintings please check out her website mariehelenepiquart.com or to make enquiries please email her at mariehpiquart@gmail.com.