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GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN: Eyes That Knew No Shade Of Sin Or Fear

Friday, 25 Jun 2021 @ 10:00 AM
GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN: Eyes That Knew No Shade of Sin or Fear
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Nearly two centuries after the great Spanish artist Francesco Goya made the series of prints known as The Disasters of War, eternally preserving the atrocities he witnessed during six years of conflict between Spain and France, Gottfried Helnwein set out to create a new version. Beginning in 2008, Helnwein sought to show that cruelty is not history, and also to shift the focus from battlefield hardships to the inner life of children. "I want to see what's going on through the child's eyes," he says. With that psychological shift came an important permutation in meaning, from graphic accusations of crimes against humanity to metaphors "for the potential of innocence."

Helnwein is still painting Disasters, surpassing the ten-year span that Goya worked on his print sequence. The seventy-ninth painting, completed earlier this year, is featured in Eyes That Knew No Shade Of Sin Or Fear, a major new exhibition of Helnwein's magisterial art, which will go on view at Modernism gallery beginning May 6th. Depicting a young girl holding an Uzi, looking away from a grinning Mickey Mouse, The Disasters of War 79 powerfully conveys the urge children feel to fortify themselves against the atrocities pervading modern society, and their struggle to remain true to their guileless fantasies.

These psychological tensions, and the insights they provide about the fraught conditions of the contemporary world, reverberate throughout the exhibition of thirteen paintings, all completed in 2021. Although they vary considerably in their iconography - evoking artists ranging from John Everett Millais to Edward Hopper - the artworks are unified by the moral impulse Helnwein identifies with Goya, which he describes as the compulsion to "force people to look at things they would rather not look at."

About MODERNISM INC.:
Founded in 1979, Modernism has since presented more than 450 exhibitions, both historical and contemporary, in media ranging from painting to photography, sculpture to performance, by an international roster of artists.

Throughout its 37 years, owner Martin Muller has striven to keep the gallery's challenging, museum quality program at the forefront of the art world.
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