Sebastian Helling (b. 1975, London) received his BA from the London College of Printing (2001) and has a double MFA from the Royal College of Art in London (2003) and the Oslo Art Academy (2011).
Helling’s work with painting and drawing is neither abstract nor figurative, neither gestural nor compositional. Layers of artistic languages overlap and deny each other. In the same spirit, his wish for communication (or anti-communication) is trapped within the relevance of the artwork. What we are presented with, then, are explosive drawings and canvases with splashes of paint and text, sometimes spray painted on, at other times applied with a brush and then stroked and smudged with his fingers. It is this tension between the positive and the negative that allows him to focus his work on the final outcome rather than a specific narrative or particular reference point - rather, they are embodiments of Helling's constant tearing apart and building back together again, an endless cycle of nature.
Of late, alphabetic letters have played a more important role in Helling’s work. By allowing a letter to compositionally dominate the surface, Helling empowers the visual form of language while simultaneously undermining the language itself. As one moves closer to the work the symbolic quality of the letter is obliterated and the abstract nature of what is essentially a line against a ‘ground’ is exposed. A harmony occurs, and a conflict is established between the semiotic meaning and the abstract quality of the form. Through this process, Helling also obscures any easy reading of his work, mixing what he refers to as a triage of “meaning, language and symbols.”