Baumgartner Galleries is introducing the work of Gottfried Helnwein, a young Viennese artist who shares what seems to be an Austrian obsession with highly detailed realism - with a surrealistic edge. Trained at the Austrian Academy, and now in the process of moving to New York, Helnwein makes figurative drawings and watercolors that are occasionally gruesome, sometimes haunting and always ambiguous. Spatial and narrative ambiguity are, in fact, the central expressive devices in Helnwein's art.
A large, meticulously painted watercolor titled "A Dream" is typical. In it, the viewer is lured into pondering whether the lone figure of a child in a muted pink dress is asleep on the ground, or has been hit by a roadside in a puddle, or on white sand in the sun?
Few parents are likely to trot such a painting home to hang over the family hearth, but the artist's ability to conjure up open-ended dramatic narrative is unquestionable.
...people caught in poses and with facial expressions that leave everything to the imagination: Are they happy or sad? Asleep or dead? Singing or letting forth with primal screams? These cleverly conceived conundrums will continue through October.