1 gennaio 1992
William S. Burroughs
poet
Helnwein, Faces
Edition Stemmle
Helnwein-s-work
Helnwein' s work
It is the function of the artist to evoke the experience of surprised recognition: to show the viewer what he knows but does not know that he knows. Helnwein is a master of surprised recognition.
There is a basic misconception that any given face, at any given time, looks more or less the same, like a statue's face.
Actually, the human face is as variable from moment to moment as a screen on which images are reflected, from within and from without. I have seen six pictures of the same subject taken in less than a minute - so different one from the other, as not to be recognizable as the same person.
Gottfried Helnwein's paintings and photographs attack this misconception, showing the variety of faces of which any face is capable. And in order to attack the basic misconception, he must underline and exaggerate by distortion, by bandages and metal instruments that force the face into impossible molds.
Images of torture and madness abound, as happens from moment to moment in the face seen as a sensitive reflection of extreme perceptions and experience.
How can a self-portrait depict statuesque calm in the face of the horrors that surround us all? The torture, disease, fear and hatred that has come to be the daily fare of what the Pope calls "the banquet of life".
These tortured faces all say: "This is what I mean... and this... and this... Look, and you will see."
You can't show anyone anything he hasn't seen already, on some level - anymore than you can tell anyone anything he doesn't already know.
It is the function of the artist to evoke the experience of surprised recognition: to show the viewer what he knows but does not know that he knows.
Helnwein is a master of surprised recognition.
William Burroughs
Lawrence, Kansas
October 1990
Essay about Helnwein
1990
Essay about Helnwein
1990
William Burroughs wrote this essay about Gottfried Helnwein in October 1990 under the title "Helnwein's work" in Lawrence, Kansas.
The essay was first published in the catalogue "Kindskopf", 1991, by the Museum of Lower Austria for the Helnwein-Installation at the Minoriten Church in Krems, Austria
Director and chief curator was Peter Zawrel.
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2nd publication in "Helnwein Faces", 1992 Edition Stemmle.
ISBN 3-7231-0447-9 (catalogue)
ISBN 3-7231-0427-4 (book)
"Helnwein's work"
1990
William S. Burroughs
silver print, 1990, 99 x 66 cm / 38 x 25''
"Helnwein Faces", 1992 Edition Stemmle. ISBN 3-7231-0447-9 (catalogue), 3-7231-0427-4 (book)




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