Lothar Hempel: Tropenkoller at Modern Art
In his fourth solo exhibition at Modern Art London, German artist Lothar Hempel presents Tropenkoller (Tropical Frenzy), an assortment of sculptures, paintings and photographic works.
Spread over the three rooms of the gallery is Hempel’s fusion of vivid colours and monochrome, creating the tropical ambience suggested in the title. His collages always include a person as a centrepiece – a boy or girl in black and white – surrounded by surprising pops of colour. City streets, palm trees or the ocean can be found behind them, putting the whole picture into its tropical context. The landscapes in the background are the only colour in some paintings, while in others, bright shades appear on the figure as well, almost blending it into the background. Plakat (Scar) – a mix of acrylic paint, colour pencil, and ink – is one of the darkest in the exhibition, in a stunning large-scale framed piece. Its dimmed subject is a monochrome man, boasting just a splash of green on his hair. This piece has some 3D layering to it, which makes the image all the more interesting.
Hempel explores a range of basic shapes; triangles, squares, and circles are reimagined as another signature of this exhibition. For instance, in Jetsam a large black-and-white photograph of people in a car, driving through the ocean, is situated in a triangular shape. Around the triangle, two big squares in different shades of blue provide the background, the only colours in the piece. This reimagining gives a certain edge to the paintings, changing the viewing perspective and separating the space in new ways, giving fundamental geometric shapes a new meaning.
Hempel’s sculptures boast even more imaginative combinations of objects, amongst these can be found keys, chains, tree branches, plastic bags, sand, beans and ping-pong balls. Perhaps these might be connected to the average tourist’s idea of a tropical holiday, a notion emphasised especially as most of those objects are stuffed in a palm tree. However, the figures on the paintings do not look like tourists at all; they carry a sense of belonging to their surroundings. Each figure has a story, and Tropenkoller provides the means to tell that story.
Tropenkoller is at Modern Art until 21st March 2015, for further information visit here.