Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Bruce Helander Last Summer at Peter Marcelle

EDEN(2002), Mixed Media, 145 x 122cm

In life we get certain opportunities; even certain advantages. A roll of the dice, a flip of a coin, white's first move in chess. A baseball manager knows that he gets 27 precious outs to master his opponent, and treats each one like gold. A writer depends on having one thought, one sentence, one word with which to win his reader, never getting the second chance to make that first impression. The image-maker understands all of this. He is the fisherman,  and like every good fisherman he knows that it is all about the bait. Bruce Helander is just such an artist, and he gets it. Give him just the corner of your eye, and he'll catch it.

Fun in the Sun(2012), collage, 25 x 15"

Bits of paper, that's all. Bits of paper are that with which he crafts his lure. Collage. A bit of paper that like the first drop of rain becomes a flood, becomes a vision, and all at once each vision becomes a dream, a paradise, a carnival, a Sunday outing with the top down, a portrait, a landscape, a new world. That's what Helander does. He is that explorer. That guy. He finds the lost city of Atlantis, the fountain of youth, El Dorado. With bits of paper. He aims for nothing less.

Elvis Reinvented(2012); collage, 21 x 15"

That's what his images are. He doesn't waste any time. He doesn't waste our time. He has something for you. He has something for everyone. No one has ever taken collage where Helander has. And not for nothing. Not Picasso, not Cornell, not Bearden, and not Rauschenberg. Bruce Helander is, yes, first and foremost as much magician as master of collage, but that is just his craft; it is where his collages take him, and finally us, that matters. Those dreams he makes, those rides he takes us on, those new worlds he discovers; they are endless, bottomless, unfathomable. They open doors that lead to places at once strange and familiar, remembered and unseen, lost and found. Helander takes bits of paper that have a past and gives them a future. He takes something broken and remakes it whole. He takes what most people would think is trash and makes art. 

Post Triangle(2009); collage, gouache on board, 17 1/2 x 15 1/2 in.

I once found myself on the wrong side. Among "rich" white people on holiday being shown a thing or two by a troupe of Jamaican entertainers. Embarrassed because they had nothing but were gods and knew it, and we the audience had lots of money but were bankrupt. Anyway, each entertainer had this one something, this one something that he or she could do, and do lights out. Something with basically a piece of detritus, an old hat, or a bottle, or a broken bike. Feats that were impossible and unimaginable. Feats that were amazing. With a piece of junk. But they had that one thing, that one tiny chance, that one meager role of the dice, and they made a fountain of gold. 

That's what Bruce Helander does. He told me once a long, long time ago that you couldn't wait for that something to come to your door, that you had to go out and take your chance. That's what he does. What the artist does. Bruce Helander takes his chance.  He shows us a thing or two. He takes a few scraps of paper and makes the impossible and the unimaginable and the amazing. A few scraps of paper and he is a god. 

Addison Parks, Spring Hill, October 2012

Images courtesty of the Peter Marcelle Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York

This is my second crack at the Bruce Helander show. In August I made a frenetic mess of it. Mea Culpa!