Artist André Hemer brings together the new world of digital media with old traditional painting in colourful collage-like, tactile abstract works on canvas. His work, which has been shown in galleries across Australasia as well as in Europe and Asia, plays on complicated tensions around representation, blurring the lines between dematerialised digital manipulation and the physical painted object.Read More
Distinctively complex technically, the artist's underlying process involves using a scanner outdoors to scan thick painterly blobs created with acrylic pigments. These are combined and manipulated in a digital image; the interplay of both sunlight and LED lights from the scanner creates the impression of digitally created forms. Reclaiming the work from the digital realm the artist prints the images so he can apply different layers of paint on top. These range from spray paint to brushed oil or acrylic, and sometimes the original acrylic blobs. The resultant image is a 'hyper-realistic' form of abstraction characterised by ambiguous but seemingly life-like forms. The orange pigment in Deep Surfacing NYC #15 (2017), for instance, appears to be a glimmering piece of fabric. The artist through this process explores the idea of the tangible and digital being interchangeable and coexisting.
Completing a BFA and MFA at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Hemer also travelled to London in 2006 for a Royal College of Art Postgraduate Painting Residency. This marked the start of a nomadic career that has seen the artist secure residencies in New Zealand, Korea, Germany and the United States, amongst other locations. Pursuing different lighting conditions for his outdoor scanning, Hemer has travelled extensively, using Vienna as a home-base for completing the projects. During his PhD in painting at the University of Sydney (2011–2015), Hemer developed the term 'new representation' to describe how digital media is consumed and created by society, requiring new ways of representing the world and new ways of transforming the immaterial forms of the digital world into something material.
Hemer's works have become progressively more complex over time. His series 'The Cobra Effect'—first shown at Kristin Hjellegjerde London in 2018—is markedly more luminous and painterly, and the composition denser, than works such as New Smart Object #75 (2013). In later series such as 'Sky Sculpture' (2018) the artist has begun to move beyond printed and painted surfaces to sculpture and video installation. Nonetheless series like 'An Image Cast by the Sun' (2019), show that the artist remains committed to his canvas-based practice.
A rising star, Hemer has received multiple awards for his work, including the Bold Horizon National Contemporary Art Award in 2011. In 2016 he was the Paramount Award Winner at The Wallace Art Awards, and recipient of the Arts Foundation New Generation award. As his career has developed Hemer's work has appeared at international art fairs such as the Melbourne Art Fair; Sydney Contemporary; Code Art Fair, Copenhagen; and Art Basel in Hong Kong, and featured in public collections including the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, Wallace Arts Trust Collection, and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.
Biography by Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2019