Serge Hélénon’s “Palette palimpseste”

Serge Hélénon’s “Palette palimpseste” is on view at the Fondation Clément (in Le François, Martinique) until February 14, 2023. In “Ceci n’est pas une rétrospective » (Aica Caraïbe du Sud) art historian and critic Dominique Brebion writes, “Hélénon’s work is complex and dense, always renewed, full of surprises, and several visits are necessary to extract the substantial marrow” (see more excerpts below).

Description (by curator Giovanni Joppolo): For Serge Hélénon, art is not only a tool for documenting and representing reality. On the paths of the world he travels, the fragments he finds are alive, and the real challenge he pursues is to invent plastic devices capable of becoming living organisms, spaces for dialogue and reconciliation of the human for the human.

[. . .] Hélénon’s priority is that of the individual capable of decreeing and constructing art starting from human nature. To do this, along the way, the artist collects the most diverse relics of a world that manufactures, consumes, throws away, or recycles. The trails (paths) traveled by Hélénon are those that irrigate the immense slum of this between-two-centuries that we have been given to live. And among this waste, the artist also finds natural relics (branches, pebbles, etc.) that he assembles with elaborate elements by dismantling the pallets used to stack merchandise through their transport from the places where the most diverse productions take place, to warehouses, then to ports, then to places of distribution and sale of all globalized goods.

This exhibition brings together for the first time all the moments and complementary stages of this long quest carried out by the artist on reality for over sixty years.

In her review “Ceci n’est pas une retrospective” (Aica Caraïbe du Sud) art historian Dominique Brebion writes:

“Hélénon makes his own pigments to accurately dose the binder and the powder in order to obtain the intensity he is looking for. [. . .] He leads a quest for the blue of his childhood, the blue that washerwomen used to make cotton or linen appear whiter, this artificial ultramarine blue—sodium aluminosilicate thiosulphate—available at the time in small balls with which, as a child, he loved to play and which left streaks of blue on his fingers.

The insertion of objects or fragments of objects does not therefore exclude issues that relate to painting. Everything has already been said—and often—about Hélénon assemblages. We can discover two works in this exhibition, ‘Caddie d’une collecte’ (2019-2020)—title to be taken in the strictly literal sense—and ‘Résumé pluriel en tourniquet’ (2022)—accumulation of various fragments awaiting assembly. They both offer a sensitive and concrete approach to his practice of recycling, of appropriation, revealing a stage in his mode of creation. [. . .]

Hélénon’s work is complex and dense, always renewed, full of surprises, and several visits are necessary to extract the substantial marrow.”

For more information, see

For full review by Dominique Brebion, visit

For more on the artist, see

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