lorenz helfer on his work: “in january 2020 i moved into a spacious studio in bregenz. after months of arriving and finding my way around, after countless failed paintings, i began to paint good pictures in tune with an unprecedented spring. my figures began to move more freely, earlier inaccuracies disappeared, what remained was a painting that served only itself.

i decided no longer to title my works, but to number them consecutively. my paintings should no longer begin with an idea, i trusted my arm and the colour, i let it do its thing. contemplation is the decisive factor in painting, it takes up most of the time. decisions have to be made: is more colour needed, is a whole part disturbing and should be wiped away? i turn the picture, is it maybe better this way? back to the canvas, change everything accordingly and look again. step back! three metres, five metres… everything until i’m satisfied. if it doesn’t work, i just put it aside and paint over it in a few months.

i found a rhythm. without straining, without forcing myself, i went to the studio six days a week. when i wasn’t there, i thought about my paintings, i missed them, i continued to paint them in my head. they became darker, then completely light, the formats became larger. i was still against any ideas, i wanted to let the pictures have their freedom. but again and again i came across motifs that i couldn’t escape. they were suddenly there and one picture alone could no longer do them justice. series were created: at first it was reflections that interested me, dogs populated my pictures, i painted reflections on wet streets, i painted shadows. i allowed all layers to have a life of their own, each figure should move in its own way, and yet they should all be connected with each other. i questioned what reality is, i created parallel worlds, one painting showed different points in time. the dogs were being chased by cars. i wanted to free myself from everything i had learned in order to get an unbiased view of my motifs.

all my artistic life i have painted figures. in the years i drew nudes, i learned to understand and control them so well that i felt i was taking away the freedom of my painting to exert too much control over my work. i grew up without a car, i don’t have a driver’s licence, and i have never dealt with cars. my view of cars is completely naive. cars seemed to be the perfect subject to break out of my routine. my streets became more and more lonely and the paintings became more and more monochrome. i realised that it was the emptiness that fascinated me more and more. i left cars, dogs and people behind. that’s where i stand today.” – lorenz helfer