ictionaries generally define naive art as "popular,folkloric,contemporary with evolved forms". However, the naive art of the enamelist painter Jenny Hellers comes close to my wildest dreams, at least when they are in technicolour. Pleasantly popular, folkloric yet timeless, her art can be modern or evolved, the terms simply do not apply here. The best word to describe her work is authentic, like the artist herself.
Although 40, Jenny hellers looks like a teenager who forgot to grow up. Her paintings reveal characters and scenes that seem equally ageless. Hellers' art cheers and endears with big yellow suns, white birds kissing, trees flourishing away from pollution and cute dollhouses surrounded by flowers. Her paintings sweep us away to an ideal world. The heros in this enamel fairytale are couples embracing, children with impish or confused looks, who stare out, only occasionally glancing at a cat or an apple in the background. Hellers' deft hand creates a place where problems fade away, thanks to what some might call "enamel therapy".
People with a passion have no sense of time. This artist has happily spent the past 25 years tinkering and refining her technique in enamel on copper. She has designed tools, selected appropriate materials, juggled with glazing times, and even patented a moveable fork that can gently be inserted into the oven (at 1500 degrees). The enamel artist can not risk a sneeze at certain stages. A steady hand is required to draw the pupil of a character's eye with a sifter ( something like to draw with salt and peper ). A tremendous amount of time is invested in each creation which bears no trace of time, no date. ( Eternal creations)
The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words certainly applies to Hellers's art. The self-taught artist from Pincourt successfully creates relief hence greater dimension in her work. Bright daylight or halogen lamp reveal her creations fully.
Born in Montreal in 1958, Jenny Hellers has an interesting Luxemburg- Québécois background. She studied graphic design first but fell under the influence of her father, an sculptor and master welder. Jenny Hellers' Glass on metal works seem to blend the dreamlike grand duchy with the rural charm of Quebec villages.
The list of prizes, official honours and awards earned by Jenny Hellers continues to grow just like her collection. From the top of the list :The public's choice prize at the Fourth International Naive Art Contest of North Hatley; Christmas card cover for the Grands Ballets Canadiens in 1995 and for Teleglobe Canada in 1994, as a tribute to the international year of the family and another for World Vision Canada.
Jenny Hellers works can be found in several private and corporate collections, as well as in the permanent collections of the Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke, le Musée de Vaudreuil, France Musée international and at Le Musée d'art naif de bage in France. The artist has participated in several group and solo exhibitions which earned her substantial media coverage in Canada, United States, Australia and Europe.
Popular wisdom maintains that happiness can not be bought, but it is guaranteed upon viewing one of Jenny Hellers' works. No wonder she is popular! And she has ideas galore for future enamel works. Of Course, this shy artist does not talk too much about her art since she feels most comfortable when leaning over a copper plate boldly and happily tracing glassy lines.
Magazin'Art, winter 1998/1999
International bilingual edition