The Sunday Times: "Bloodied but Unbowed" - Helnwein's art deals in public trauma, says Gerry McCarthy, September 14
BLOODIED BUT UNBOWED
Gerry McCarthy The Sunday Times Culture September14, 2008
Fury greeted Gottfried Helnwein's Waterford Installation, but his art deals in public trauma, says Gerry McCarthy
Again and again, he has painted children in brutal, violent settings. He has used Christian iconography to depict Nazi officers, and juxtaposed rampaging soldiers with Images of childhood innocence. Visceral reactions come with the territory: one Installation in Cologne was physically attacked by neo Nazis. And yet, he says, he does not set out to shock. "Shock is a useless effect," he says. "Somebody in shock is completely useless. I want to make somebody think."
Instead, Helnwein's work speaks of a deep psychological need for meaning, even as it takes the form of violence and confrontation. Such an approach is rooted in the uneasy silences of growing up in post-war Austria and the shattered illusions of his early adult life, yet is still infused with an uneasy idealism.