Memories of Duckburg
At nights my room was plunged into a deep, red light - my toys, the furniture, my bed, my hands - everything had the same color and seemed to be made of the same soft material. As though the natural laws were suddenly suspended, all matter seemed to glow from the inside out. The explanation for this red magic was the large illuminated star of the Red Army on the roof of the factory across the street, which poured it’s fire nightly into my room.
Erinnerungen an Entenhausen
ZEIT-Museum der 100 Bilder - Bedeutende Autoren und Künstler stellen ihr liebstes Kunstwerk vor
Nachts war mein Kinderzimmer in ein tiefes rotes Licht getaucht - meine Spielsachen, die Möbel, mein Bett, meine Hände - alles hatte die gleiche Farbe und schien aus demselben weichen Material zu sein. Als wären die Naturgesetze aufgehoben, schien alle Materie von innen heraus zu glühen. Die Ursache dieser roten Wundernächte war der riesige leuchtende Stern der Roten Armee auf dem Dach der Fabrik gegenüber, der nachts seine Glut in meine Kinderstube goß.
Arts and Culture of the South East, Ireland
INTERVIEW WITH GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN
"...When I look at a work of Art I ask myself: does it challenge me, does it touch, move or inspire me? Do I learn something from it, does it startle or amaze me - do I get excited, upset? That is the test any artwork has to pass: can it create an emotional impact on a human being even when he has no education or any information about art? I’ve always had a problem with art that you can only understand if you have a degree in art history, and I have a problem with theories in general. Most of them are bullshit anyway. Most critics and theorists have little respect for artists, and I think the importance of theory in art is totally overrated. Real art is self-evident. Real art is intense, challenging, enchanting, exciting and unsettling; it has a quality and magic that you cannot explain. Like the Blues, a poem of Rimbaud or Rembrandt's late self-portraits. Art is not logic, and if you really want to experience it, your mind and rational thinking will be of little help. Art is something spiritual that you can only experience with your senses, your heart, your soul. Think of Bob Dylan, Hendrix, Mozart, Howling Wolf, Goya, Bukowski or Robert Crumb - do you need to know the theories that some busybodies might attach to their art in order to experience it? Marcel Duchamp said: "The work of art is always based on the two poles of the onlooker and the maker, and the spark that comes from the bipolar action gives birth to something - like electricity." These two poles is all you need.
THE AMERICAN PAINTINGS
These paintings are about America, I guess from a very European point of view. They're based on photographs, mainly newspaper photographs, of the Fifties and Sixties from archives in New York and L.A. Most people in these pictures are real people, caught in some long forgotten, petty events. I rearranged the scenes, introduced new characters, and created new relationships and contexts. And then I painted them in black and blue. That's how I remember America back then in the early Fifties in Vienna, where I was born. The big war had ended a few years ago, but the city still seemed undecided as to whether this was the end of the world or if life should go on. It was a strange, sad and surreal world. The streets were empty, the houses dark - many of them in ruins from the bombings. The few people I saw seemed ugly, clumsy, and depressed. I never saw anybody laughing and I never heard anybody sing. It was a world without sound and colour. Everything moved in slow motion, like slime. We had no phones, no television, no cars, no music, no pictures, except the paintings of tortured people in the Roman Catholic church which made a deep impression on me, haunting me in the sleepless nights of my childhood limbo. And then, without any warning, suddenly there was America. When I saw the first picture of Elvis I was in a state of shock, because I couldn't believe that a human being could be so beautiful. That was the beginning of the never-ending flood of American images that suddenly came over us and started to penetrate and transform everything.
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