Austrian-Irish visual artist Gottfried Helnwein is a provocative and controversial figure, whose photorealistic paintings deal with difficult and often disturbing subject matter. He has worked as a painter, draftsman, photographer, muralist, sculptor, and performance artist who employs a wide variety of techniques and media. His subject matter is the complexity of the human condition. Throughout his oeuvre is the recurring image of the child, which Helnwein uses to explore ideas of psychological and sociological anxiety as well as historical and political issues. These often extent to taboo subjects such as Nazism and the Holocaust. In his works, the innocence of childhood is put into juxtaposition with horrific world events. This interplay serves to highlights the fragility of the human condition. Gottfried Helnwein can be understood as part of a larger tradition in Austria, stretching back to Messerschmidt and linking to the likes of Egon Schiele, whereby human suffering and emotion is a central subject matter which is constantly returned to and considered. Helnwein is also deeply interested in comics and their capacity for the communication of emotions.
Austrian, b. 1948, Vienna, Austria. Based in Ireland and Los Angeles.