Augustus Helpert

 

My work uses color and subject matter to evoke a sense of history and universality when, in actuality, the paintings have neither, being independent reflections on contemporary attitudes. The imagery in my work draws on a personal iconography compiled from my study of art history and visual culture. At times, the symbols I use seem jumbled or incoherent, reflecting an uncertainty of how to process these images. I am specifically interested in images relating to the history of war and conflict, and I construct figures that recall the archetypes of history while highlighting the insidiousness of violence. The figures exist against dark voids or flat, cluttered spaces to break their relationship to reality and reinforce their symbolic qualities. They also possess a cartoonish quality, an element that brings levity to the paintings while also creating tension between the figures’ simplistic looks and their implied dark intentions. The archetypal figures in my work serve as critical reflections of cultural attitudes in support of violence and the major disconnect with history seen in today’s culture.

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