The gigantic face of “The Last Child” looks at you from the contaminated well of greyish liquid eyes that, before being tainted by a world of violence, were probably blue and shiny. Those eyes belong to a betrayed, disenchanted innocence and, if you want to return that look, you need first to step back at least one hundred feet because this Child imposes a distance. The installation, which also included the same child holding a machine gun, caused some stirring if not public rage in Waterford, Ireland. Gottfried Helnwein, though, didn’t want to shock anybody but rather make people think. Rivers of words have been written about this brilliant artist and we prefer our readers to enjoy individual interpretation (you’re welcome to visit the artist’s comprehensive website). It’s worth to notice, though, that Helnwein paints huge oil and acrilyc portraits, sometimes working on the floor and falling asleep, exhausted, over the fresh canvas while his own child, his son, keeps a watchful eye on his dad as if he’s the one to protect. The work’s impressive size shrinks the artist to minuscule proportions, in a healing process that deflates the ego and re-establishes the oeuvre’s independence. Because this is, in the end, what is important: a work which speaks for the artist, and not viceversa. Helnwein accepts to step aside, letting his outstanding production to have its saying. Not common, today. Helnwein is impressive  for the quality and quantity of his work. Too many contemporary artists are constipated. They produce too little, blocked by the fear of doing the wrong thing or something that doesn’t correspond to their marketing positioning. They wait for years and when they finally come up with the idea, it is often overripe, unnatural and artificially perfect. Helnwein is restless and generous, instead. His subjects jumps from bleeding, blindfolded kids to iced sugar donald ducks and sarcastic mickey mouses, clearly painting two sides of the same coin. In the screaming “Self Portrait 29” (1991) his head is wrapped in surgical gauze while two forks, kept into place by two strips of duck tape, are bent to pierce his eyes. Is the self-inflicted pain a tiresian punishment to the visionary prophet who have seen too much? We leave this question unanswered. Helnwein wants people to think.


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