Gow Langsford Gallery presents a new body of work by Vienna-based New Zealand artist André Hemer, where the digital morphs with the material to record the outside world. Featuring abstracted surfaces in the brilliant colours of the ever-changing skies, The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads acts as an ode to circadian rhythm at a time where the world is in paradox – pandemic related restrictions have caused us to be more observant of nature’s fleeting moments while being disconnected with the natural environment in an unprecedented way.
Hemer is celebrated worldwide for his paintings which meld the digital and the material. Using a flatbed scanner to scan impasto paint formations while exposed to varying light sources, Hemer prints digital traces of paint and light onto canvas. These are layered with each other and with physical painted gestures, before the sculptural paint formations once scanned are then appliqued to the surface. The resulting works are an intentional confusion of representational types, and they invite an intimate viewing to discern where one begins and the next ends. Obliging viewers might notice that Hemer’s usually abstracted surfaces have been trespassed here and there by petals and seed pods; small biological ephemera that passes in from outside.
“I’ve always liked painting because it creates a sense of intimacy, which is rooted in the relationship between the materiality of the work and how we perceive it. This feels particularly crucial right now, when there is such a profound disconnection between people, place, and experience,” said Hemer. “To recapture that dimensionality and tactility, I use a wide range of different materials and formal approaches to confuse and compel the viewer - to draw them in and make them feel like they want to touch the work. For me, the more confounding and mysterious the painting, the more it feels like I’ve hit on something new, interesting, and right for the current moment.”
Each painting in The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads is timestamped via the title, suggesting that the image, like a photograph, is intended to capture and embalm a specific moment. This connection to another medium permeates through our collective lived experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the artist’s home city Vienna, like many others worldwide, came to a standstill, Hemer engaged more actively with the natural world outside the confines of his apartment, noticing in particular the fleeting beauty of the rising and setting sun and recording these moments in the digital sphere via his Instagram stories. With an exceptional eye for colour and movement, Hemer transforms these snapshots into ethereal landscapes. Canvases erupt with golden oranges, peaches and pinks, which then give way to twinkling violets, blues and blacks, tracing the passage of the sun across our skies. With a claustrophobic timelessness thrust upon us this year, we are suddenly pulled back into an ancient way of telling time: the sun.