Published September 23, 2020
The people in Johanna Helmuth’s paintings always look like her. She’s in all of them, male as well as female, masked and unmasked. But what’s more captivating about this young visual artist is that her art-- paintings and sculptures, are both ferocious and tender.
Johanna Helmuth’s art often depict people in fusty rooms, sometimes with dogs, furnitures, and other accoutrements of an outmoded everyday Filipino life. Frequently, there is an atmosphere of malaise, sexual tension, repression, and threatened violence. Props abound-- fearsome scenes of daily activities in homes all filled with coded messages, some more easily deciphered than others. Like children’s stories with adult themes, Helmuth’s oeuvre shows the truth behind jealousies and affairs, longings and losses, betrayals, sexual gratification, and the ambivalences of sin. While viewers might put emphasis on lines and measurements or even her subdued palette, Helmuth escapes into a kind of narrative that provokes the weary heart, making you cry and laugh inside at the same time as you welcome your own interpretations.
Johanna Helmuth is a Filipino contemporary visual artist who holds a degree in Fine Arts Advertising from the Technological University of the Philippines. She has had solo exhibitions at ArtistSpace Ayala Museum, Secret Fresh Art Gallery, West Gallery, and Blanc Gallery. She has participated in group shows such as Pinto Manhattan Show II in New York City, USA, WIP at NUNU Fine Art Gallery in Taipei, Taiwan, and in various prominent galleries across Metro Manila. She is also an Ateneo Art winner of The Fernando Zobel Prize for Visual Arts.