Merry Karnowsky Gallery

Mercedes Helnwein: The Trouble With Dreams

Mercedes Helnwein: The Trouble With Dreams

Saturday, October 5, 2013Saturday, November 2, 2013


Los Angeles, CA USA

Merry Karnowsky Gallery is proud to present The Trouble With Dreams, a new exhibition by Mercedes Helnwein. As is her custom, Helnwein uses bygone decades and cultures of the deep South and Midwest for inspiration. In this series, the artist delves poignantly into the realm of domestic mysteries by visually exploring the underbellies of small towns, living room noir, and the dangers of normality.

Helnwein attacks her stories from various angles and with a number of different media. The portraits of young women are in her trademark thick black pencil -- facing the viewer without the distraction of much background, their expressions carrying unsettling hints of an unspoken narrative. The watercolors in contrast are delicate in their pale, fragile color schemes. These women and girls are portrayed in soft turquoise, pinks and flesh tones with a seemingly transparent quality that is only disturbed by the occasional explosion of bright magenta or orange leaking from their faces or dripping from their hair. Lastly, there are large-scale oil-pastel scenes based on vintage photographs found at flea-market sales. These are rendered in monochromatic grey, green and earthy tones with rare accents in red or pink. There’s a Southern gothic feel to these pastels; empty street scenes and forgotten family photographs impart a feeling of ghostliness, an immateriality that only otherwise exists in memories.

Helnwein’s exhibition is completed by a film installation set in a vague, past decade, somewhere between the 40s and 60s. The scenes represent the opposite of two equally uncomfortable worlds: Law and Medicine. Beautiful in their film-noir like artificiality, the two worlds face each other over thirty minutes with the sweat, smoke and tension of nothingness.

The film was produced by Stellascope with cinematography by Giovanni Ribisi.

Helnwein has regularly exhibited at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery as well as throughout the U.S. and Europe. Her 2010 London exhibition Whistling Past the Graveyard was bought up in its entirety by Damien Hirst. She has also collaborated with fashion designers like Orla Kiely, drawn album artwork for Beck and worked on frequent collaborations with her brother, the composer Ali Helnwein. Her debut novel The Potential Hazards of Hester Day was published by Simon & Schuster, NY in 2008

The artist currently lives and works in Los Angeles and Ireland.

Helnwein's first art book, NO WAY HOME, published by ZERO+ Publishing, will be released during the exhibition. Email: jessica@mkgallery.com to reserve an advance copy