Viper in Bosom
Vilma Gold is pleased to present a new exhibition of work by German artist Thomas Helbig.
For his first exhibition at Vilma Gold Helbig will exhibit a new series of drawings, paintings and sculptures. With references to the Russian Avantgarde and Surrealist practices, Helbig seems to engage with, and subvert, the languages of modernism they encompass. This is perhaps most apparent in Helbig's overpaintings of found paintings and wall decorations. He has described the effect this has as 'discovering something through concealment' or 'making something visible through encryption.' Often, through this process of reworking, forms are organically revealed so that a process of transmogrification takes place. In other works, found portraits have had their faces blackened and smeared by paint, with the saturation of the canvas seemingly having occured with such violence that the drips left by the application of paint fall all the way down to the frame. The suggestion of gravity, throught the way material has been applied, is rarely a quality the forms in his paintings are burdened by. Mostly the picture plain has a weightless quality as objects hover, suspended as if by extraneous forces. For Helbig the concept of suspension is closely connected to the Baroque and the way dramatic use of light and illusory effects like trompe l'oeil are used in the churches of Helbig's native Upper Bavaria to create greater spiritual affinity.
Helbig's paintings and sculptures are often bourne out of earlier drawings. Torn from the pages of his sketchbook, his drawing appear to have a spiritual affinity to Surrealist automatic drawings and contain rapid flecks of colour, ominous shapes and faint references to mythological icons through the use of form and symbolism. In Helbig's sculptures paint, resin and polyurethane cover partially destroyed statue heads, tree roots and an array of thrift shop castaway objects that have been dissolved, flattened and broken down to forms barely recognisable as the structures they once were. Coagulated and yet perceivably mutable Helbig's sculptures seem to have a life force of their own, watching over the gallery space they act as arresting punctuation from the contemplative reverie that Helbig's paintings invoke.
Thomas Helbig was born in Rosenheim in 1967 and lives and works in Berlin. In 2007 he had a solo show at Oldenburg Kunstverein and has participated in group shows at Kai 10 Raum Fur Kunst (2008), Musee des Beaux-Arts, Tourcoing (2008), Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv (2008), Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2008), ZKM, Karlsruhe (2007), Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2007), Tate Modern, London (2007), Goetz Collection, Munich (2006) and Oldenburger Kunstverein (2003). Helbig is currently participating in the exhibition 'Underclass Atavism' at Gentili Projects, Prato, curated by Viet Loers.