Multidisciplinary artist Helen Beard is best known for her large scale color-field oil paintings depicting sexual imagery in a closely cropped format. Her paintings, collages, needlepoint, sculpture, and installations draw directly from pornographic and other found materials. Her artworks highlight sexual themes in a broad context, more specifically, she explores gender, eroticism, and sexual psychology with provocative scenes from a woman’s viewpoint.
Beard was born in Birmingham, England in 1971. She studied Art and Design at Bournemouth and Poole College in 1992. For 15 years Beard worked as a freelance wardrobe stylist and assistant art director for the film industry. She garnered the attention of artist and collector Damien Hirst and exhibited in the 2017 group show Simulation Skin: Selected Works from the Murderme Collection. Today, her art is part of major collections worldwide.
Beard uses a bold and raw approach for depicting female sexuality. With bright colors, Beard creates a complete contrast between the scenes she illustrates and vibrant hues present. Using condensed polychromatic shapes and forms that can often be indistinguishable, Beard combines abstraction and realism. The visible brush strokes to her work add to the overall erotic feel by creating visual rhythms and sensual movement. Her artistry offers a balance of strong impact imagery and simple composition and structure.
Through her paintings, installations, and needlework, Beard creates a constant dialogue about sexual desires from a female perspective. Unapologetic in her illustration of female sexual liberation, the artist invites the viewer to engage with the image. Her feminist approach to female sexual desire and need removes the male gaze through a reductive representation. A representation that challenges the notions of women being passive and devoid of desire in sex.
With provocative art, she presents female empowerment by celebrating sex from a female perspective. By making the female figure the active protagonist of her art, Beard celebrates female erotic fantasy. Her paintings are a new approach towards the representation of gender, one which highlights intimacy through the eyes of a woman.