Mercedes Helnwein's drawings in her show Local News at the Molesworth Gallery are stylish and, for the most part, sinister. It is impossible not to see the links between it and the world of her father, Gottfried Helnwein: both make technically polished, photograph-like images, unsettling or disturbing to varying degrees.
In her drawings Mercedes Helnwein focuses on figures in interior settings. But these are figures in interiors as conceived by David Lynch, say. In practically every case there is something untoward and obscure going on.
On occasion the figures are stretched out on the ground as though they have fallen, but there is usually a theatrical element, as though they are playing at it. The lighting is invariably dramatic, with features strongly lit from below and casting deep shadows, for example. Apart from her considerable technical abilities, Helnwein's achievement is to string us along, so to speak.
There is a calculated ambiguity about her images. On the one hand they are dark and ominous and layered with menace, on the other there is the implication that it's all done with smoke and mirrors, it's only a game. Except that we can never opt for one or other option, and we are kept in a state of uncertainty.
Aidan Dunne, February 14, 2007