Hélène Planquelle



The Artist

Self-taught artist, Hélène Planquelle owes her wide range of knowledge and interests to her background in humanities. Passionate of classical literature and philosophy at first, she went on to study intercultural communication and opened her mind to always more contemporary topics in the realms of social and natural sciences. Putting high value in cross-disciplinarity, Hélène Planquelle thrives on feeding her mind novel material in order to reach a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the world we live in. To her, determination is the key to knowledge and self-improvement; and it is that spirit that led her to develop her practice entirely as a self-taught artist. Constantly seeking to improve her technical skills, she believes technique is to art what vocabulary is to language: the more words you have, the more complex and precise your expression is.


In the same spirit, she looks up to other artists who, before her, were able to combine classical training and innovative ideas, from Salvador Dali - whom she admires for both his technical mastery and lavish imagination - to Jenny Saville - for her uncompromising look on the human body - and Ernest Pignon Ernest - who weds very contemporary topics and Caravaggio esthetic.


Fierce advocate of figuration, her work draws on man's ancestral need for storytelling. As art is not so much about finding answers than raising questions, Hélène Planquelle's work deliberately looks for ambiguity, uncertainty and multiple meaning. With truth and authenticity among her core values, Hélène Planquelle aims at nothing less than for her work to spark genuine emotions in her viewers, which are often the start of open-hearted conversations about existential issues.

"In the Confines of Fear II" - Hélène Planquelle

60x50cm- Charcoal on Paper

©Hélène Planquelle all rights reserved


"In the Confines of Fear III" - Hélène Planquelle

55x75cm - Charcoal on Paper

©Hélène Planquelle all rights reserved


Rare are the people who go through life without experiencing the rapture of love and the sorrow of having the person you care most about hurt you in the most unbearable way. Hélène Planquelle has made this beautifully painful experience, private yet so universal, the foundation of her art practice, which comes from a need to confront the torment of our relationship to the Other. 


She explores this delicate balance between bliss and misery in our encounters with others from an intimate as well as more universal point of view, tackling recurrent topics like emotional dependence, attachment, social need, vulnerability, acceptance and rejection, power and violence.  


Conceptual in nature, her work draws on a wide range of philosophical and scholarly references, from ethics to cognitive sciences, attachment theories and evolutionist psychology. More specifically, Hélène Planquelle's vision is deeply rooted in the thinking of French ethical philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas, who forged the concept of original violence to describe our first encounter with the other. The vulnerability of the other, exposed in the nakedness of his face, seems to command me: "you shall not kill"; thus interfering with my sovereign right to being. The figures of victim and torturer originally ingrained in our encounter with the other bring her to explore extreme physical activities like sadomasochist practices or combat sports as graphic sources of inspiration.


Although her art is infused with her reading, viewers are first drawn to the realistic rendering of her works. Using classical techniques like oil painting and drawing, she adopts a more modern approach in her choice of colors and compositions, using different narrative modes to most subtly convey her sensitivity


Leaving nothing to chance, her work process starts long before she picks up any paintbrush or pencil: organizing photo shoots with models she repeatedly works with over time, she collects her own graphic material and manipulates huge databases of images she endlessly edits and assembles in order to elaborate compositions that capture the complexity of her topics, merging various images into one or zooming on dramatic details that require viewers to fill in the blanks.


Most importantly, Hélène Planquelle likes to work in series and spend time deepening one narrative thread, often captured in a quote that gives the series its name ("Where is your brother?", "The Seed of pain", "In the Confines of fear", "The Gaze"...). Chosen for its poetical quality, this quote-title is how she connects her otherwise very graphic work to the conceptual background it feeds on. Meant to play as a sort of mantra, it guides viewers through her series, as each work is akin to a variation around the same theme, yet open to multiple interpretations.


Imbued with a deliberate dramatic quality, Hélène Planquelle's work ultimately looks to sublimate the raw nature of the experiences she touches on to help us make sense of our most individual sorrows she embeds in a broader story , that of humankind.



In the confines of fear_II_60x50cm.jpg
HP2 Small.JPG

" Where is your Brother?" - Hélène Planquelle

140x120cm - Oil on Canvas

©Hélène Planquelle all rights reserved


" Where is your Brother?" - Hélène Planquelle

60x60cm - Oil on Wood Panel

©Hélène Planquelle all rights reserved


Solo shows


  • 2021 

Superfine Art Fair, The Reef (Los Angeles, USA), February


  • 2019

​Where is your brother, YIA (Young International Artist Fair), booth #5, October 31-November 3


Original Violence, We Art From Paris (Paris,FR), March-April



  • 2018

Galerie Joan Font (Paris, FR), March


  • 2017

​Zamaken Collective (Paris,FR), November

Place des Cordes (Paris,FR), November

Group shows

  • 2020

​Destructuralisme Figuratif, Parc Floral de Vincennes  (Paris, FR), October

Paratissima Art Fair, Magazzini Romagnoli (Bologna, IT), January


  • 2019

Grateful Park, Pilotenkueche International Art Program (Leipzig, DE), August

Hungry Dungeon Friends, Kunstkraftwerk (Leipzig, DE), July

Seattle Erotic Art Festival, Seattle Center Exhibition hall  (Seattle, US), April

Féminin/Masculin, l'art se joue du genre, Lestudio Gallery  (Paris, FR), March-April

La caresse et le meurtre hésitent dans leurs mains, La Condamine (Paris,FR), February, (as a curator and artist)


  • 2018

​Rapports, Les Rituelles (Paris,FR), June-September

1480km, Galerie La Lalande (Paris,FR), May

De l’ordre de l’intime, Galerie La Lalande (Paris,FR), March

  • 2017


Ropes U, Eurydice Gallery (NY, US), August-September


NPE Art Residency,  (Singapore), April-June 2021

​Powerlong residency, (Hangzhou, China), 2021

​59 Rivoli, (Paris, France), November 2019-February 2020

Pilotenkueche International Art Program, (Leipzig, Germany) July-September 2019



" Where is your Brother?" - Hélène Planquelle

60x60cm - Oil on Wood Panel

©Hélène Planquelle all rights reserved

Drawing from the biblical episode of Cain and Abel, this series tackles issues related to our relationship to others and puts them into a broader cultural and historical perspective in order to touch on the questions of envy, jealousy, violence and ultimately, the temptation of murder.

" Where is your Brother? Sequel IV"

Hélène Planquelle - 80x110cm - Oil on Canvas

©Hélène Planquelle all rights reserved

" Les Yeux Clos à l'Eternel Ether?" - Hélène Planquelle

50x70cm - Double layered Painting

Oil on Wood Panel & Glass

©Hélène Planquelle all rights reserved

This small series is entitled after one of Paul Valéry’s poems “Fragment of the Narcissus”, evoking our need for connection, the state of excruciating vulnerability it entails, along with the greediness and blindness relationships can foster. The passage from which I chose this verse describes a couple tangling and fighting, their passionate embrace giving birth to monsters, as love also spawns self-delusion and lies.

"Eyes Closed to the Eternal Ether" Series

Hélène Planquelle_Where is your brothe
Leurs yeux fermés à l'éternel éther_

"Where is your Brother?" Series

In the confines of fear_IV_75x100cm.jpg

"In the Confines of Fear IV" - Hélène Planquelle

75x100cm - Charcoal on Paper

©Hélène Planquelle all rights reserved

This ongoing charcoal series explores the theme of emotional dependence, the fear of losing the people we love and constitute our emotional safe space, and the possessive behaviors this fear entails.

"In the Confines of Fear"Series

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