Yavuz Gallery Singapore presents Images Cast by the Sun, a solo exhibition by New Zealand artist André Hemer this November. Hemer’s practice foregrounds the intersections between digital form and traditional painting. Central to his practice is an exploration of what it means to create paintings during a time in history in which the experience of an object is being continuously torn between states of physical and digital materiality.
Images Cast by the Sun comprises works formed from a set of scanned images taken across two summers in Vienna, where the artist is based. The works continue Hemer’s longstanding inquiries into the materiality and ontology of paint as it passes from physical object to digital image and back again. Using a flat-bed scanner, Hemer scans three-dimensional paint forms exposed to the elements and the lights of the scanner and the sun. The digital scans are edited and printed onto canvas, which then become a site for further physical painterly interventions.
The resulting works render seamless the transactions between the real and the digital artefact — a metonym for the radically blurring of the digital and the real as life is increasingly mediated by digital technologies. While the digital process’ transmutation of materiality is at the centre of his practice, Images Cast by the Sun foregrounds a parallel alchemy — that of the sun. Scanning during the late afternoon and at sunset, Hemer digitally transforms objects into images at the moment when changes in the physical scattering of sunlight alter their appearance dramatically. The burnished gold-pink tones of the works’ scanned underlayers are themselves indexes of light reflected — images cast rather than merely made.
The repeated capture of a specific subject in changing light conditions is strikingly reminiscent of Impressionism’s formalist experiments in the effects of colour and light. Hemer’s works however shifts the parameters of this inquiry. Neither fully simulacra nor fully of the real, the works treat materiality and reality, rather than light alone, as transitory and fluid. According to critic Rose Vickers: “Though annexed to a time stamp — a specific day and time recorded in relation to the origin of the painting — they are as transient as a shifting plane of light.”
The transitory nature of sunlight becomes a metaphor for the material and the real in our digital age. If Hemer’s paintings function as indexes of the passage of time, his video works take time out of the equation. Paint instead is suspended a vacuum outside the space-time of the real. Dematerialised, the materiality of the paint is paradoxically magnified, taking on celestial proportions and qualities. Paint spins on its own axis, bathing the viewer in their screens’ artificial light, transformed into suns themselves.
Images Cast by the Sun runs from 22nd November to 22nd December 2019 at the Yavuz Gallery. For more information, visit their website here