Overview

b. 1984, Portland, Oregon; Lives and works in New York

Eric Helvie's work deals directly with the act of seeing, obsessive looking, and optical ambiguity.  Pulling from art history, television and film, his paintings act as props and icons: objects that glean meaning from their context and point to a larger system of understanding.

 

Helvie’s series, No Friends, presents an entirely new group of portraits and drawings that explore and develop a group of Helvie’s earliest works. Inspired by science fiction, specifically the writing of Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut, these portraits blend photorealism and abstraction resulting in a body of work that is direct and otherworldly.

 

The paintings in the series, O, capture loading Instagram images initially taken as screen captures from the artist's personal feed and then painstakingly rendered in oils. The paintings seamlessly move between abstraction and photorealism, presenting a foggy and filtered reality where all subjects are equally obscured. These purposefully unclear compositions, still “loading”, present a peaceful limbo. The image will never become clear and we are left contemplating an indistinct, albeit richly painted middle ground.

 

His series, Leviathan, presents a group of eight new, photorealist paintings, four years in the making. Begun in 2014 as a series of works originally created in response to Philip Roth’s, Portnoy’s Complaint, Helvie employed thickly layered oil paint, sprayed enamel and printed fleece fabric, pressed directly into the wet surface of the paintings. The resulting “Pipe Smokers,” once finished, were then repainted with each gestural mark and collaged surface element rendered in a single layer of black and white oil on canvas.

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