Sélection d'articles
27 juin 2008
Provokator magazine
Phil Williams
Expose Your Inner Guilt with Gottfried Helnwein’s Angels Sleeping
Gottfried Helnwein Angels Sleeping hyper-realistic art Prague Rudolfinium Galerie.
What do Marilyn Manson, Mickey Mouse, violence against children and Nazism have in common? There may be a few ways to answer that question, but Gottfried Helnwein’s exhibition, Angels Sleeping, brings these topics together most powerfully, and might expose a few feelings of anguish you never knew you had. If you have yet to experience the hyper-realistic paintings of Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein, head to the Galerie Rudolfinum in Prague at once. The art on offer spans his work from the 1970s up to the present day, split into five key sections that explore his most common themes of psychological and sociological suffering, with paintings so realistic you’ll question your own eyes.
The exhibition opens with a series of portraits, where Helnwein’s style is immediately typified by his iconic self-portrait, depicting him screaming with forks jammed into his closed eyes. The effects of Nazism are subsequently addressed with such images as war-scarred officers standing blandly about the body of a lifeless child. The callous regard of the Nazis in such work is used as a criticism of Austria’s war-guilt, for which Helnwein considered his country got off lightly, and is a cross-section of some of his more political paintings.
The central section contains Helnwein’s most dominant theme, das malträtierte Kind, the child exposed to suffering. The viewer is presented images of children stained with blood, bandaged, lifeless, even simply holding a gun. As scenes without direct cause, their sanitary, dispassionately realistic depiction makes them seem all the more horrific, and these paintings draw the viewer in, stirring feelings of guilt and neglect. The largest image on display, Kindskopf (Head of a Child), is especially bold, as the photorealistic quality brings it so effectively to life that you’ll barely believe it is a painting.
The theme of abuse against children is subsequently blended into the ironically-titled “Art in Amerika”, where cartoon characters replace children as victims, exposing concepts of abused innocence. Seeing Donald Duck interrogated by stern-detectives in Dark Hour is haunting, but worse comes with the duck coldly shown as a homicide victim in L.A. Confidential. Finally, a series displaying Marilyn Manson’s face mixed with Mickey Mouse ears, alternating between light and dark with sometimes satanic faces, explores the darkness of human nature.
The disturbing thing about Helnwein’s work is its ability to involve the viewer in the themes, strangely brought about by their detached presentation. It is a great marvel that an exhibition of such pristine images will leave you feeling dirty inside.
Modern Sleep 3
photograph, 2004
Opened June 11th, the exhibition runs until the end of August.
Admission is daily, 10:00 – 17.00, except Mondays. Full tickets are 120Kc.

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