September 17, 2009 - October 17, 2009
Friedman Benda Gallery, New York
One man show
September 17 - October 17, 2009
Friedman Benda is pleased to announce its representation of the Austrian born artist Gottfried Helnwein. The artist’s first New York solo exhibition opens September 17th featuring a singular painting and two documentary films, an installation that calls to mind live performance. A second exhibition presenting a new body of work, currently in progress, will open at Friedman Benda in May 2010.
Exhibition Information
Gottfried Helnwein
September 17 – October 17, 2009
With subtle and powerful gestures of light and shadow, Helnwein creates enigmatic dreamscapes, reminiscent of both old master paintings and contemporary cinematography dominated by themes of childhood, beauty, and innocence as well as catastrophe of war and internalized terror. Often referencing his own youth in post-World War II Austria, Helnwein merges familiar images with the unexpected to evoke suspense and discomfort. Helnwein's paintings are arresting and unsettling, representing 40 years of story telling and engaging his audience with an experience akin to live theater.
Although ideologically drawn from the horrors witnessed by his own generation, Helnwein’s paintings are not documentary, offering instead archetypal characters. His paintings present children whose sufferings can be universally and metaphorically applied to generalized narratives of psychological and societal anguish and brutality. Innocence (of children) is used as a metaphor for casualties of war and a merciless warning against cultural amnesia and complacency in the face of contemporary violence.
Helnwein directs his narratives at his immediate audience, confronting and implicating his viewers, sometimes as the victims, other times as the perpetrators, but always as characters in his story. Collective audience reception is crucial to his mission, and he uses a number of characteristic devices such as scale and unlikely positioning of his work to intensify the experience and present questions. Exhibitions of his work become personalized dialogues with morality.
The new documentary film, "The Silence of Innocence", offers first-hand footage and interviews with the artist. The title refers to a recurring theme in the history of art of Infanticide, as told in the book of Matthew and painted iconically by Peter Paul Rubens c. 1611-1612.
Ninth November Night, documents the monumental outdoor exhibition staged by Helnwein in 1988, of 15-foot high painted portraits of downcast children hung on the 300 foot-long wall between the Cathedral of Cologne and the Museum Ludwig. The work poignantly demands remembrance of the crimes of Reichskristallnacht, or “Night of Broken Glass,” November 9, 1938 when the Naziregime first coordinated large-scale attacks on German and Austrian Jews and their property, presaging the destruction, deportations, and mass murder of the Holocaust.
Art News
For further information please contact:
Jennifer Olshin
Helnwein working on "The Murmur of the Innocents"

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