Kats, Nerves, Shadows & Gin
March 21, 2009
January 28, 2008, New York—Lothar Hempelʼs current solo show at Anton Kern Gallery, comprised of four figurative sculptures, three large diamond-shaped photomontages, and one painting, radiates an air of mystic coolness, generosity and grace.
Like a futuristic stage impresario, and seemingly without effort, Hempel choreographs figures and objects, matches disparate materials, and arranges geometric shapes and colors into a display of self-conscious aplomb. Colors are brilliant, shapes clearly defined, tactile surfaces vary from velvety soft to polished and hard. Images of dance performers and classical sculpture alike share their space with such attributes as feathers, truck tires, office chairs, a parrot and a Plexi walking cane, even a selection of imitation cakes and cocktails in a deli cooler counter. An eight-foot reflective phallus watches over the protagonistsʼ activities. Their overall behavior, firmly anchored in cultural codes, entails a set of discernible bodily movements, postures, facial expressions, as well as color and tonal modulations that take on strategic social value within a moral context. Our gaze is opened to a kind of sprezzatura, an "aristocratic cool", that in the past has related to frank amorality and love or illicit pleasures behind closed doors.