Good Weekend Art Column

Helen Eager – Utopia Art, Sydney

Published September 22, 2018
Helen Eager, 'Mir'

Artist:  Helen Eager

Lives: Alexandria, Sydney


Represented by:Utopia Art (No Melbourne representation)

Her thing.Vividly coloured geometric abstractions arranged in an artful installation

Our take.In a catalogue note for her exhibition, Satellites, at Utopia Art, Helen Eager writes that her father used to work in a planetarium. She remembers how the Russians put a dog into space, and the day men landed on the moon. This is useful background for a show of geometrical abstract paintings, considering that most abstract painters feel it’s almost heretical to discuss their sources of inspiration.

Eager came to abstract art by degrees. She once specialised in still lifes and interiors, albeit with strongly geometric overtones. After she had abandoned figuration her work grew increasingly minimal, using the simplest of shapes and no more than one or two colours. In this up-tempo display she has broken free of these self-imposed strictures. Here she embraces the broadest of palettes, playing freely with contrasts and complements.

The playfulness extends to the way the show has been installed, with pictures arranged at odd angles on the wall  like satellites hurtling through space. There is, however, a method behind these vibrant compositions. Eager has abandoned her old rules but set herself a new set, which decrees that each painting must contain four triangles, three shapes and four colours, with the negative space of the white canvas acting as an integral part of the picture. Within these parameters there’s room for infinite variation.

Can I afford it?It would be great to see these paintings kept together in one installation, but as artists have to eat, it’s all for sale. The cheapest pieces are TessOrion, Hubble, Ibex and Terra (60cm by 40cm) at $3,000. The most expensive are Curiosity, Dawn, and Mir (137cm by 214cm) at $22,000. This is still a long way from Eager’s record price of $55,000. For a mature artist with a long trail of exhibitions, there’s no reason to hesitate.

Where can I have a squiz?

Utopia Art, 72 Henderson Road, Alexandria, Sydney

1-29 September, 2018.


Published in The Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 September, 2018