The eXTra finGer

...''He was counting on his fingers.One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven.Eleven?Had he been born with an extra finger?''...

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...& visit my web sites: Claudio Parentela's Official Site ''Claudio Parentela:Contemporary Art with a Freakish Taste!'' Lights&Shadows Disturbing Black Inks


Friday, June 15, 2007

Interview with Mercedes Helnwein

q)Let’s start with the basics; what's your full name,where do you live, and how old are you?

a)Mercedes Helnwein.I live in Tipperary in Ireland and Los Angeles.27.

q) Do you have any formal training?

a)No,I never went to art school. but drawing has been an addiction of mine ever since I can remember.I never went anywhere without paper and pens. And I guess if you do it that much, you can't help but get good at it.

q) Did the place you grew up in influence your image making?

a)Sure.I grew up in Vienna, Germany, the U.K.,Ireland, America, and each of those places is like a different planet. I think growing up in so many diverse cultures rubs off and gives you a much broader picture of life.Of course different places have different things to offer in terms of inspiration.America has always been something of a candy store to me in that sense. It's one hell of a weird place, and you can find so many diverse things and phenomena there - from the genius of the blues and the beauty of it's golden age to the embarrasments of the modern mainstream culture. America has such a large spectrum, with extremes at either end and everything in between.There's definetely a lot to be fascinated with. I find that the east and west coast alone are like two different countries - not to mention the Midwest,which is a world of it's own.

q) How do you come up with your concepts?

a)It varies. sometimes I have weird ideas in my head that come from god knows where and some how wrestle themselves into finished, polished drawings; and sometimes it is something I see - a bumper sticker somewhere in traffic, someone's expression, an article of clothing, a cooking utensil...

q) Describe your creations in a clear, concise and understandable sentence. What do you call them?

a)Realistic, large scale drawings in full color pencil or black pencil.And writing.

q)What other mediums would you like to explore in your image making?

a)Oil paints and watercolors for the moment. Probably also pastels. Anything really - I don't think I would want to limit myself to anything.

q)What is the best time in the day for you to work on a project? Is there one, or is it more about the environment …maybe the right mood?

a)I love working in the mornings. But I also love working at nights. I guess the middle of the day isn't so bad either.It comes down to the fact again that I'm addicted, so there probably are no rules.

q) What are your artistic influences?...and generally who or what influences you the most?

a)Robert Crumb, Munch, Alfred Kubin, Goya, Rembrandt, my father (Gottfried Helnwein), Bukowski, the blues, Mark Twain, Tom Waits, Steinbeck, Bob Dylan, Dostoyevski,the White Stripes. I think "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is one of the best books ever written, and my respect for it has no end.I could go on for a very long time about the people I admire, so I'll just keep it at that.

q) Who are some of your favourite artists/designers/photographers?

a)see the above.

q) What is your next project?Exhibition?Collaboration?

a)I have a show, "Strange Days", that just opened up at the BESPOKE GALLERY ( in New York, which has some of my newest works in it.
q)What are your plans for the future?

a)Well, I have a novel that will be published by Simon &Schuster next feb., the title is being finalized right now. It will be announced shortly. it's a weird story.And of course, more art shows. There will be a solo show in Los Angeles in late spring 2008 with a whole new series of work, which I'm working on now. And some shows in Europe.

q)Are there some web sites that You would like to recomend? Artists, art communities, xxx,...!?

a)my (my father's work) (my brother ali, composer) (my brother cyril, photographer) (the Traction Ave. Chamber Orchestra) (this site is still being finished up)
friends and (the band Love Lies Sleeping) (Glen Baxter, artist) (Keven Llewellyn, artist) (Alex Prager, photographer) (We Are the Superlative Conspiracy,clothing) (Vivian Gray, actress)

q)What sort of music do you listen to?

a)Old blues music changed my life. I started listenting to it when I was about 15, and it felt like I was finally home. That might sound corny, but it happensto be true. I never seemed to fit in anywhere before that - everything that I tried to be into or be a part of seemed awkward on me - all the music, the social groups, the styles of clothing. I just felt like the modern world didn't have much to do with me. But there was something so potent and honest about the blues - it just blew everything away. I truly think this is one of the highest forms of art.I also love Tom Waits. as well as Jimi Hendrix, BobDylan, Django Reinhardt, White Stripes, RollingStones,Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Who, Love Lies Sleeping, etc.… Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Shubert, Bach, etc. It's always a little hard to answer that question because you know you are leaving a lot out.

q)Do you collect anything?If so what?

a)Art! one of the good, solid advantages of being a visual artist is that you can trade artwork with other artists.

q)What do you do for fun?

a)Work.When I'm not drawing or writing, I become uneasy, as though something is very wrong. That, or being around other artists on a regular basis. I don't know what people usually do for fun -partying? I don't even really know what that means.I like playing the banjo, and sometimes I like doing pointless things, like orchestrating photoshoots with friends (or random people) of imaginary sport teams,fake office Christmas parties, or fictionalized family pictures.

q)Any advice you can pass onto aspiring artists/designers?

a)Not to be discouraged by the official art scene, which for the most part is a conglomeration of pretentious,deeply mediocre arts and crafts.If you really want to go to sleep, pick up an arts magazine featuring the biggest new artists. There's great art out there, but it is not always theart that is being force fed to the public."Modern art" of whatever shape, form or size should not be concerned with being an erudite celebration of things that only a few people can feel snug about because they're holding a Martini glass and made some sense out of some metal stick protruding from the wallof a gallery. Art has only one purpose: to move. To move on all levels.You should never walk away from a true piece of art and be left the same:un-dented, un-changed, with nothing new floating about in your head. The art world needs some help, so I would say, help itout.

q)Your contacts.


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