Women are still often labeled as melodramatic and sometimes even as far as hysterical; but other than all the woes, tears, and the occasional fainting, there's a dark, rarely public, detached way to how we cope with our emotions. Mercedes Helnwein flawlessly captures these dark moments of lonesome anguish in her latest collection "Make it Dark", now at Merry Karnowsky Gallery. Helnwein unveils various stills, surrounded by an intense play of light and shadows, infused by profound melancholy. All her subjects are caught in the middle of their own emotional battle, yet none shed a single tear. The silent surroundings are induced by the untold encounters her subjects bear through.
Some of her portrayals are so intimate that they feel like an invasion of privacy- as though looking into a young woman's room as she slowly crumbles onto her knees and then falls to the floor; although there are no clear signifiers as to why, the emotional distress is prevalent. Many of the subjects partially hide behind the depths of Helnwein's black pencil shadows, while others face forward almost forcefully exposing themselves. The more dramatic a moment is in this film noir inspired collection, the heavier the shadows become. Most of the collection is rendered in her signature black pencil but complimented by a neutral palette of pastels, oil paintings, and color pencil. "Make it Dark" is an invitation to a dark world rarely disclosed, but worth experiencing; it is yet another intriguing collection delivered by Helnwein.
"Make it Dark" will be at Merry Karnowsky Gallery until December 29th, 2012.
Words and images by Jessica Portillo