Monday, December 31, 2012

Painter Gottfried Helnwein: In Your Face

All paintings oil and mixed media on canvas. Click on any image for larger view.

Click on any image for larger view.

(Above) Painter Gottfried Helnwein at work.

(Above) Painter Gottfried Helnwein in front of a canvas.
(Above) Gottfried Helnwein at work.(Above) The artist’s palette.

AUSTRIAN-BORN ARTIST GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN paints pictures about childhood pain, and horrors seen or imagined. Large and powerful, intimate and disarming, Helnwein can twist reality to the fantastic or the painful, the sad or the horrible. The size of his paintings present something you cannot look away from, like the traffic accident on the highway. You don’t want to stare but you can’t help it. You want to touch, but you shouldn’t. Gottfried Helnwein mixes innocence with life, and he does it better and bigger than most.

See more here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Watercolor With Life

Click image for much larger view.

Click image for much larger view.

Click image for much larger view.

I FIRST FELL IN LOVE WITH WATERCOLOR IN HIGH SCHOOL. I had one of those black metal flip open Prang watercolor sets, with the little ovals of pigment—just waiting to come alive with the addition of water. Watercolor allowed me to find translucency of color, spontaneity of application and a freedom I had never known. It was in college that I saw watercolor reemerge in the masterful hands of Edward Reep, our artist-in-residence at East Carolina University. Reep was an artist during the Second World War, and a damn good one. Check out my earlier post on Ed Reep on this blog here.

I recently discovered the work of Alvaro Castagnet, a watercolor painter from Montevideo, Uruguay who I delivers watercolor to white paper in a way I have not seen in quite some time. This man is a painter! He chooses watercolor because he innately understands the fact that only watercolor can deliver the kind of light one sees everyday. Using wet-on-wet and even a dry brush across dry paper—Castagnet has the amazing ability of interpretation. By that, I mean he is able to look at a crazy busy marketplace or city street (at night or day) and find the soul of the place. Castagnet is not interested in fussy details—things we do not see or remember anyway. He delivers the place—the moment—the essence.

See more about Alvaro Castagnet here.

With his talent, his strength, I wonder what his interpretation of say, the war in Afghanistan would be like? I wouldn’t blame him for not wanting to go there, because he would be putting his beautiful life on the line for a cause that is not his. Still, with his ability—I can see that this man could deliver to the world a view of that country—and the hell of the war—in a way that has not been seen.

It does make me wonder—where have the American war artist’s gone? Are the Ed Reep’s of the world not valued any more?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Early Collectible

(Click on images for larger view)

A FRIEND OF MINE SHARED WITH ME a collection of authentic Park Drive Cigarette cards, a small illustrated card given away with a purchase of a pack of cigarettes in the 1930s. This series of cards was called “Champions,” cards illustrating British sports champions (including dogs!). Park Drive cigarettes was a brand from the Gallaher LTD. tobacco company based in Great Britain.

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