Visit Helene Steene’s Portfolio
Born in Sweden in 1949, Helene Steene lived in various places in Europe before moving to the United States in 1976. In her childhood home in Sweden, Steene was surrounded by artworks that her grandparents and great grandparents had collected throughout the years, so subconsciously she was influenced by fine art from an early age. Even after graduating college, getting married, and having a child in the States, her European calling never ceased.
Later in life she and her family visited a friend on a Greek island and was captivated by a lovely but rundown villa on the edge of the Aegean Sea, and it was later purchased as a summer home. She attributes many of her visual influences to that place; both sea and fauna coupled with the layered sense of history are reflected in her work.
Steene’s work is built up in a slow process of numerous translucent layers of oil glazes using dry pigments over a marble dust mixture on wood. Many of her works include metal that she sands by hand with finer and finer grains to create a “soft” look on an industrial material. This contrast of old traditional painting techniques and modern industrial materials enhances the subtle tensions in the works.
Early on in Steene’s art studies she discovered the encaustic abstract works of the Japanese-American artist, Kenzo Okada, which turned her towards abstract and non-objective works ever since. Some other influences come from Vermeer and Titian for their translucent smooth colors, Turner for his light, and Diebenkorn for his colors and textures. All of their beautiful layering of colors and textures can be seen in Steene’s work as well.
As Steene developed her aesthetic techniques, she culled her life events as inspiration. From the wonderful memories of her European childhood, the heart-breaking tragedies that shaped her life, and the dazzling land and seascapes of the Mediterranean, Steene manifests her life and history into her art.