21 Mar – 28 Apr 2018
Contemporary by Angela Li is proud to present “The Back of the Starry Sky”, the third Hong Kong solo exhibition of Beijing-based German painter Martin Wehmer. Since 2008, Wehmer has lived in China where he has worked as an artist and art educator for the past 10 years. With Western artistic training background, Wehmer embraces Western painting techniques and integrates witty and disparate subject matters onto his canvases. He draws his inspirations from his daily life in China, through possessions and mundane details that are socially relevant, reflecting on his unique identity in China in this contemporary era.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”- Hans Hofmann
The simplification of representation in many of Wehmer’s works is an intentional effort to remove unnecessary detail to achieve a unified form between gesture and representation. The process shows his pursuit of meticulousness in his works. Wehmer carefully examines different ways of observation to respond to the physical world, including complex pictorial structuring and colour relationships, to explore figuration and the means of representation. He strategically maintains the delicate balance between the gestural abstraction and the structured physicality of his painting with its thick and almost sculptural paint, breaking the restrictions of working on a two-dimensional surface. The painting activates an exchange with the viewer based on an inseparable relationship between the direct physical presence of the work, and the phenomenological response that the act of painting could generate.
In his latest works, Wehmer explores the breakpoint between pure abstraction and representation as means of revisiting the core concept of painting. In yellow X, stretches of ribbons divide up the canvas, creating geometrical planes through the use of simple and powerful lines while incorporating abstract representation onto his canvas. Lanhexiao shows the perspective of a chair or furniture as if the viewer is looking at the object from lying beneath it. In Bomb, defining details of a portrait have been removed, yet it is still tactfully distinctive that goes beyond generic representation, allowing the widest interpretative potential.
About the Artist
Martin Wehmer was born in Blankenstein J. Hattingen, Germany in 1966. He was awarded the Volksbanken art prize in Germany in 1996. He later took up art residencies in Edinburgh and Beijing, and finally decided to settle in Beijing in 2008, where he has lived and worked since. He was one of the organizers of the Beijing 798 Biennale in 2009. Wehmer is also a devout art educator. He has been a lecturer at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, and in the CDK project, a joint programme of the University of the Arts, Berlin and the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, facilitating art exchange between China and Germany. His works have been exhibited extensively around the world, and have been included in important collections such as UBS (Hong Kong, Cologne, Zürich), Kunstkredit Basel and Kultusministerium Kanton Basel.