Delphine Hennelly


Artist Statement

In my recent paintings I was drawn towards the weave of tapestries as an infrastructure from which to form a gestural pattern. As the paintings progressed I embraced the lenticular effect of the pattern that developed and coincidentally the interlacing quality of a seemingly digitized image. The idea of tapestries and screen technology as apparatus’ for viewing became a meaningful aspect of the paintings and provided a lattice, so to speak, from which much of my formal decisions were made. Replacing thread for the brushstroke, it was the parts of the tapestry that were frayed that became interesting to me, the effect of looking at something worn by the ages was a quality I was trying to replicate. I painted breaks in the otherwise overall systematic linear pattern creating an image that became digitized, broken up, worn with wear and tear, glitchy.Although the resulting image did not move and shift when viewed at different angles, an allusion to lenticular printing changed the entire depth of field. Furthermore, the painted weave of tapestries lending itself to a digital raster effect or the effect of interlaced video suddenly gave way to an image with a shallow depth of space, implied as though behind a kind of screenal interference. The figure now receding inwards from the surface of the canvas rather than protruding outwards from the surface provided an image that truly embedded itself within the drawing.

Ideas of migration and the Diaspora due to the mass destabilization that is currently happening across the world form the basis of much of the politics in the foreground of these paintings.My interest in textiles and ceramics goes beyond the formal in that they are objects that are associated with domesticity and bourgeois comfort. I intended the use of such tropes juxtaposed with the wanderlust or rather fleeing central figure to imply a sense of destabilization, of displacement, or uprootedness.The flower garlands in their recognizability and easy comic appearance are intended as a seduction. Partially framing the figure, and, at times, overtly decorative, they are an interference smashing against, or frustrating, our comprehension of the plight of the figure. Concurrently I think of how movement can be, particularly in the sense of a march, a form of resistance or protest. A question for me all along in making these paintings was; “ Is the figure moving towards or away from a life of comfort?” As such, an aspect of the paintings that became a fixation was the direction in which my figure is striding left. One effect of this is to give the sense of a counter clockwise movement. As in the western world we read from left to right, the gesture of the figure walking towards the left would imply an exit, or viewed another way; a gesture of resistance.

In my earlier palette pastel suggests a playful levity, furthermore, the gendered proclivity pastel colors perpetuate has always been of interest to me in my wish to subvert such tropes. These newer paintings, however, depict a departure from the pastel in their use of blacks and browns along with deep reds and blues. Blue is a recurrent color throughout the eight paintings particularly in the suit of the central figure. I was thinking of blue as a utilitarian color, the color of workers clothes, the utilitarianism of denim,perhaps, but blue also fit my purpose of having the garments be outside of time inservice to a possible iconicism. Flower garlands to decorate but also to act as a foil, – to distract; stones locking a picture plane in place like possible paper weights: all these motifs, along with colors I choose, work to formally build a ligature from which to hang the image. Within this framework the use of repetition and decoration, either masking or unmasking, offers a multiplicity of possible interpretations. Furthermore, the effect of negation that arises with repetition of the figure is interesting to me not as a form of erasure but as a means to neutralize the feminine gendered proclivity often applied to images of motherhood. Wishing to avoid the saccharine or sentimental it was imperative to resist an easy allusion to the madonna and child, or the Pieta, for example, an iconic image of mother and child that, as a Westerner, most readily comes to mind. By playing with repetition I enjoy seeing how far I can subvert the iconic image from it’s singular contextual meaning while retaining some residue of the power an iconic image can hold.It is the tension that lies in this dichotomy that has become fruitful in my wish to pursue figurative/pictorial inventiveness.

Simultaneously the binocularity of the “double vision” implicates the psyche and the idea of two selves. Thinking around ideas of feminism I think of the comparison between the self that is projected and objectified, and the self that is hidden or reserved. I wonder what the female form in defiance of the subjugation of this metaphorical doubling could be. A literal representation of this pictorial idea felt like a necessary place to start. In contrast to the female figure of my earlier paintings the figure in the current paintings depicts a woman emancipated from the expected gendered characteristics of femaleness. She is clothed in a one piece that is non-form fitting, non- gender specific.The front of the suit, though indicating a forward thrust is flattened out ignoring the possibility of breasts. Wearing undecorated boots indicating a purpose in stride her legs remain undefinable by the shapelessness of the suit. Although the mirror in the earlier paintings would perhaps imply otherwise, vanity does not come into play with these garments. Returning to the idea of the Diaspora while in the throes of walking or marching the doubling of the figure would also indicate a movement that would appear like a glitch on a video screen. Perhaps the image of her self-hood has only just,‘in-that-moment’ morphed, barely escaping her shadow. Looking out at the viewer through this binocularity she is the Interlocutor simultaneously announcing and denouncing the acknowledgment of her painted existence, appearing as she is, woven into the fabric of the narrative of her memorialization. 


MFA Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, NJ
BFA Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NY.


2017- Missing me One Place Search Another, Group Pop-up Show, Curated by Libby Rosa and Chris Lucius, Brooklyn, NY.
2017- Settling the Ghost, curated by Kate Mothes, Presented by Young Space at Standard Projects, Hortonville, WI
2017- “Got it for Cheap” organized by Charlie Roberts, traveling drawing show, Art Athina, Athens, Greece
2017- Stranger Loops, Rutgers in New York Group Show, Foley Gallery, Lower East Side, NY
2017- Action At A Distance, MFA Thesis Show, Mason Gross Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ
2017- Au Jus– All Female Pop up Show, Candy Studio, Chinatown, NY
2016- Welcome Back Show, Mason Gross Gallery, Rutgers, New Brunswick, NJ
2015- Divers, Group Show, Mason Gross Gallery, Rutgers, New Brunswick, NJ
2015- Alumni Group Show, Warren G Flowers Gallery, Dawson college, Montreal, Qc.
2015- Pop Up Show, Renyi Gallery, Rutgers, New Brunswick, NJ
2014- Parallel Shift, Residency Group show, NARS, Brooklyn NY
2014- Group Winter Show, Le Temps…Nous, L’espace Fresque, Val-David, Qc.
2013- Group Summer Show, Le Temps…Nous, L’Espace Fresque, Val-David, Qc.
2013- Group Show, Reflexion, Massivart, Fonderie Darling, Montreal, Qc.
2003- Painting’s Edge, Idyllwild Arts Parks Exhibition Center, Idyllwild, CA.
2002- Solo Thesis Show, Cooper Union 6th Fl. Gallery, New York, NY

2017- John I. Bettenbender Memorial Performance Award
2017- Nominated for The Dedalus Fellowship
2016- Tepper Scholarship
2016- Robert Watts Graduate Memorial Scholarship
2016- Peter Stroud Scholarship
2015- Tepper Scholarship
2013- Shortlisted for 100 Painters of Tomorrow. Thames and Hudson. UK.
2002- Actra Fraternal Benefit Society Grant
2001- Elizabeth GreenShields Foundation Award
1999- Elizabeth GreenShields Foundation Award


2014- Nars International Artist Residency, New York, NY, USA
2003- Paintings Edge, Idyllwild Arts Campus, Idyllwild, California, USA