FROM THE BOOK
"Maybe it's a defect, yet ever since my earliest childhood I have seen violence all around me, as well as the effect of violence: fear. I absorbed any piece of information I could get hold of on persecution and torture like the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, tyrannical regimes such as that of Pinochet's Chile, the Inquisition…and finally, the general mistreatment of children.
The obsession with inflicting maximum pain on others, in particular on the defenseless, that runs throughout human history has always been a mystery to me. The creativity that people develop in committing such atrocities is startling.
How can someone show anything but love and admiration to children? I have seen pictures taken by forensic doctors of children who had been tortured to death, often by their own parents, images that will not let you sleep well for a while.
That was the reason I began to paint. Aesthetics were not my primary motivation.
By the age of 18 I finally realized that art was probably the only possible way of defending myself against the impertinences of society. For me art was a weapon with which I could finally strike back."
Gottfried Helnwein, excerpted from his interview with Peter Frank in I Was a Child.