German artist Lothar Hempel named his recent exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery after a poem of his, “Oral Heart.” Like the poem that initiated an expanding body of the artist’s writing, the show is an amalgamation of image ideas. Paintings, sculptures and drawings are the sparkling fragments of a dynamic whole, like the prismatic reflections of a powerful sunbeam.
“Oral Heart” animates the intimate spaces of the third floor gallery with a multitude of materials: steel-framed paintings on Dibond aluminum, photo montages printed on cutout acrylic glass, steel masks, and pencil-and- ink drawings. Hempel further develops motifs of a practice that reflects his experience as painter, sculptor, musician, choreographer and filmmaker. The pieces on view materialize the artist’s distinct outlook on the interaction between art-making and being in the world.
Hempel choreographs faces, objects, bodies, and masks, mixes contemporary and archaic imagery, matches diverse materials and techniques, and arranges all into radiant and decisively shaped works of great aplomb. The notion of time stretches across the disparate materials, constantly re-contextualizing the elements’ inherent meanings and narrative possibilities. In conjunction with the exhibition, and as a suggestion of a parallel world to his show, the artist has created an online presence of “Oral Heart.” Please visit oralheart.nyc to read Lothar Hempel’s expanding and continuously transforming poem, and to view related images and texts. oralheart.nyc is like live-radio, like a shadow theater, inviting its audience to engage over time.