Atyniadau Gogledd Cymru

Arts and Culture With Helen Lopez at Rhyl Library Arts Centre

Press Release

Helen Lopez 'Shift Perception'

New Exhibition at: Rhyl Library Arts Centre, Church Street  Rhyl, LL18 3AA 

30.4.1 - 4.6.11

10 - 5pm Monday - Friday,

10 - 12.30 Saturday

Helen Lopez, ‘Shift Perception' will open on 30 April in Rhyl Library Arts Centre. Helen's work looks at the language of mark -making, and combines the two disciplines of writing and painting. Found text and mixed media materials are combined into artworks that reflect connections between daily life and global politics, where colours and textures are observed in a landscape of visual language.

There will be a chance to meet the Artist on Fri 6 May, between 6 - 8 pm. Helen Lopez will be reading extracts from her book of Poetry, ‘Shift Perception'. All are welcome and light refreshments will be provided.


"Helen Lopez is taking an anamorphic look at her own art practice.  She travelled to Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada to find enough distance to look back at her own life, and discovered a shared excess of detritus in both countries which formed the basis for her current written and visual work. In this work we find Lopez in a state of change, and perhaps happy to remain there, if that is possible, or at least to move on to new states of indetermination. She is feeling her way, experimenting, playing, collecting, organizing, finding, ordering and contextualizing a life she has travelled away from in order to see.  Through playing with the new spaces and materials that have opened up between her life as a painter and her recent concentration on poetry she engages in a reevaluation of her visual language. 

Lopez's new work is made up of organized, pattern based collages which look a bit like puzzles or patchworks.  The puzzles are not workable unless you include the poetry which weaves its way through.  Sometimes the words make poems, sometimes they don't.  To read them requires concentration, as the fragmented collages which surround them are distracting. It is hard to hold the words in one's head.  The work is enigmatic; unlike her poetry the visual deconstruction does not always reveal insights about power structures and cultural relationships. This visual world is reduced to cubes or building blocks that make up seductive patterns, space and colour.  Meaning is not always released; we are left on hold in a liminal space, confronted by an ambiguous surface, a patchwork quilt that withholds comfort.

The work seems to be about surface and organization; a surface which arises from the nature of the material, which itself is found material which came to her.  She didn't seek it; it just arose in her life, brought to her by family, postman and circumstances.  In his forthcoming book ‘Post-Production' Nicolas Bourriaud states: ‘art's current function is to deal with things that were created elsewhere, to recycle and duplicate culture...Artists provide access to certain regions of the visible, and the objects they make become more and more secondary.  They don't really ‘create' anymore, they reorganise'.  Almost all of this new work is placed in meticulous grids, but to what purpose other than recycling? Lopez relates the grid to a musical score.  Each square represents a place where a letter might be placed.  The grid is a foundation for meaning which may or may not emerge from the cut ups.  Lopez has no formal interest in experimenting with the varieties of collage making possibilities; she is merely breaking down her found subject matter/material into similar components and reassembling them.  Her playfulness is with the variety of objects put through the process, rather than reveling in formal discovery.  The freedom is a temporary escape from painting and all its demands.  Some of the works, which include poems are collaged over paintings.  Occasional colourful splashes, scrapes and wiggly lines of paint and crayon allow gesture to intrude on the geometry and pretend order, again reminding us of her painterly practice. Although she can't quite escape from her love of colour and the temptation to use it, the colours are mainly as found, giving clues to their origins such as the yellow pages or local bus time tables, the lurid pink of lottery tickets and CMYK test strips.

Lopez stresses the random and redundant nature of her found materials but the things she has chosen to fragment and recompose are telling.  Maps, bus timetables, wallpaper samples, yellow pages and catalogues, travel and family snaps and lottery tickets.  They are things which regulate, support, maintain and adorn everyday life, with a sprinkling of aspiration and the hopeless fantasy of escape.  The largest works are made from holes from a spiral binder cut from 26,000 hotel bedroom browsers; a confetti of meaninglessness mixed with glue and paint to make an amorphous surface.  Even in these there is a nod to structure, large circles can be seen emerging from the mass; writing has been incorporated in another piece, gestural swirls of paint float across the surface.  The physical detritus of virtual communication and the reality of the paperless office is exposed in the pale mauve collage of html or some other indecipherable computer language and the carefully collected CMYK strips.  A dark photographic collage, Beautiful Blood Shot Eyes, fragments photos of evening gigs with friends and family.  Lines from songs are picked out in crude handwriting but each is tidily contained within its square. In her poetry she examines structures in an investigation of meaning and power, this investigation continues in a more abstract way in this visual work, at times coalescing into new visual poetry, at others merely highlighting anomalies and absurdities in an exercise of critical observation".   (Wanda Zyborska, 2010)

Helen Lopez is an artist and poet who has lived and worked in Wales all her working life. She has exhibited her paintings in many parts of the world and has sold work in many countries as well as becoming a well known member of the local art scene in Anglesey and achieving some status and popularity with many Welsh collectors. Her first collection of poems, which is published by Shearsman Books is an integral part of this show.

Contact Rhyl Library and Arts Centre on:

Tel: 01745 882523/353814

E-Mail: [email protected]