|Fun in the Sun(2012), collage, 25 x 15"
|Post Triangle(2009); collage, gouache on board, 17 1/2 x 15 1/2 in.
Sure, Helander too owes a debt to Picasso. Collage is his medium. The Cubism of collage. It is the ball he has been running with. It is also the lens he sees through, and what we see through in turn. But the debt ends there and he paid it. After that he took a left on Tristan Tzara and followed that through the light past Magritte and De Chirico all the way down Utopia Parkway to the thruway and parts unknown: a little place just beyond postmodernism called deconstruction, where he set up camp way ahead of the pack.
Bruce Helander is more than artist as original, artist as creator, artist who makes something from nothing; Bruce Helander is the reinventor, the recreator, the recreationist, the recycler, the great recycler, patching together what others cast off. In this he is both artist and educator, because folks, this is how it is done, this is what makes great art. And this is what makes Bruce Helander so special. He shows us the way.
What finds and fancies and forces its way into his images, cut and cemented in place, are the stuff of the American Visual Experience, the once Life Magazinesque: advertising, wall-paper, billboards, kitchen labels, comic strips, posters, and sex. A largely print design world. A largely vanishing world. A quirky and whimsical world where cigarettes are good for you, Elvis is The King, and all breasts point to heaven. Neon lights and chrome. Paint and leopard skin. Sequined sun glasses and Hawaiian shirts. Roller-skates and apple pie. State Fairs and prize pumpkins. A world Helander lovingly documents and preserves and resurrects. A world he remembers for what was best about it, for what was unique and special about it. A world that is well worth remembering. But again, and most importantly, also a world that is above all both fun and funny. Where everything is fair game. Where he can poke fun at it all, including himself. Where the motto is “sense of humor or die trying.”