Updated: Oct 3, 2022
Nature has always been the inspiration for human artistic creativity. A contemporary artist has made his essence through colours and shapes that do not go unnoticed. Helmut Koller from Wien (Austria) is the founder of ‘Kollerism’, his personal interpretation of the wild world of nature through a set of portraits of iconic animals of fauna. Kamil Art Gallery is giving Monaco’s residents and visitors the chance to meet Koller’s art within a solo exhibition kick up on the 12th September 2022 in the presence of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and a few guests including MONACŒCOART®. The showroom, named ‘KOLLERISM’, will be open until the 12th October 2022. The Animal Fund, TAF, the non-profit marine association operating for several years to educate, communicate and act effectively in favour of marine mammals, is the main sponsor of the event.
«These paintings are iconic portraits of sensitive beings, supreme beauties without reference to time and space or any esoteric manipulations of nature», Helmut Koller, artist and photographer
The Austrian artist, accustomed to observing the details as a professional photographer for the most popular Wien Opera House, highlights the power of wonderful felines mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and apes in unusual and particularly natural positions showing in a sense their feelings through out-of-ordinary psychedelic colours. A balanced mix of photorealism and surrealism where their almost romantic beauty stands out on monochromatic backgrounds to encourage visitors to focus on detail. What comes out of the canvas is a message of pride that seems to make us reflect on the importance of always having respect for all living beings of our planet earth. Helmut Koller pointed out: «These paintings are iconic portraits of sensitive beings, supreme beauties without reference to time and space or any esoteric manipulations of nature».
As a matter of fact, Koller’s masterpieces went around the world for their uniqueness born from the eclectic spirit of their designer who travelled a lot, moving to Manhattan and then to Palm Beach (Florida, USA). From portraying opera, music and ballet legends like Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Leonard Bernstein and Rudolf Nurejev, he moved successfully to the editorial, publishing a series of photo books about his unique experience on stage. In the meanwhile, he developed a passion for painting with special regard to portraits of indigenous people and, since 1997, he has been collecting a series of wildlife pictures using a ‘colourful and super realistic pop’ technique.
But what is behind the artist’s choices? What goals does he pursue through his art? MONACŒCOART® had the chance to collect Helmut Koller’s (H.K.) live feedback during the vernissage on Monday the 12thSeptember 2022.
MONACŒCOART®: What inspires you in your artistic production? Why do you select fluorescent colours that blow from your paintings?
H.K.: I chose this colour palette with a purpose. I have always considered those colours as primary throughout my artistic production. At first it was hard for me to describe my art so I decided to invent a personal way to express myself and I conceived a new word, Kollerism. Obviously, it is a pun merging the etymology of ‘colour’ with my surname. I define it as a realistic representation of forms and abstract nuances. I was originally inspired by the minimalist art of Egon Schiele (Austrian Expressionism). While working I realized that I was really attracted by what I was depicting instead. It is quite difficult to explain when it suddenly an idea comes up. Anyway, it happened and I decided to rush into it with great enthusiasm. It was fascinating then to see that the final outcome was exactly what I had imagined.
MONACŒCOART®: Why did you choose to represent Nature in such ‘human’ way?
H.K.: I am not particularly fond of specific animal behaviours but all my paintings do not refer to time or space. Living beings are on the spotlight. I had been thinking for years how I could improve on that. I realized then the relationship between animals was the most effective pattern to follow. The zebra family group and the two tigers show it with clarity. From now on I will focus mainly on it. Fauna’s emotions are as meaningful as human beings’. Some of them combines beauty to ferocity and that is also fascinating me.
MONACŒCOART®: Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and other Monaco’s associations like The Animal Fund are committed to nature preservation and protection of endangered species, are you supporting the cause? What message would you like to convey through your art?
H.K.: Yes, absolutely. I have been supporting one of the major existing animal charity foundations for a long time. I do hope that my art helps keeping attention on wildlife respect. Personally, I am thrilled to come back to the Principality after forty years.
For me it is extremely important to leave free interpretation of my artwork. I don’t want to influence them via what is driving me. That would be just a content-less illustration. My goal is basically to create empathy. Thus, I am not the one who tries to explain the way he creates a piece of art.
MONACŒCOART®: You have recently created a few artworks paying tribute to TAF’s engagement, can you tell us something about it?
H.K.: In order to best celebrate The Animal Fund I thought to show emblematic marine species, notably endangered mammals, set in a kaleidoscopic circle that recalls the mandala which have also a spiritual value in the eastern religions. I made a twin copy with an integrated movement marching to the notes of the Blue Danube waltz in a child-music-box version. ***
To know more about the artist please visit: Helmut Koller
By Maurice Abbati