The real tension in Helbig’s paintings is that nothing is simply what it first appears to be. Though anchored around portraits, landscapes or art historical subjects, his compositions suggest an eerie, remote intangibility. Wilde Mit Spiegel (2004) echoes a traditional mirror-facing vanitas, but here it has been fleshed out through an abject model whose monstrosity seems to be disintegrating and shifting before our very eyes.
Maschine (2005) also deliberately plays with half-articulated meaning, as if delighting in teasing us with the idea of transition and pareidolia – the recognition of accidental anthropomorphic shapes in abstraction. Helbig’s subversion of the viewer’s expectations extends to his handmade frames, which are intentionally imperfect and
lead us to contemplate further the undefined and uncertain nature of what it is we are looking at.