Like a modern day Goya, Helnwein's art addresses themes of inhumanity, violence and the virtue of personal expression. Over more than four decades, the artist has pursued a singular, radical vision realized in monumental paintings and photographs. With stark and probing psychological intensity, he critiques not only the past, but present-day veneers, jolting us from the comfort of complacency. Such confrontations are informed by his upbringing in post-war Vienna, Austria; an experience that fuled the artist's passion for truth and tolerance.
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The innocence and wonder of childhood idyll are a matter of advocacy for the artist, Gottfried Helnwein, who was born in Vienna, Austria in 1948. Helnwein grew up in a world where childhood was inextricably shaped by the aftermath of World War II. Austria was annexed as a German province in 1938. In the post-war period, a fog of denial shrouded Austria, both for its role in the War and in the Holocaust. It was against this background of malaise that Helnwein and his generation inherited what may be best described as a fundamental lack of openess. Its implications offered the themes for Helnwein's earliest drawings and paintings, which by the 1980s had brought the artist notoriety and respect as an important figure in contemporarty European Art. Today, Helnwein immerses himself in our ever-changing cultural landscape, working from his studio in Los Angeles.
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