Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Hans Hemmert



In traditional media, from trompe l'oeil painting to abstract metal sculpture, the sense of an artist straining against or pushing beyond the limits of his medium is a major part of the achievement. In digital imaging virtually anything is possible, but with no physical material to struggle with, the result is often a hodgepodge of glitzy effects. Not so with Hans Hemmert's four video projections on exhibit at Vedanta (along with many drawings), which at first appear to consist of digital images projected on sketches. Brutality/Artificiality/Innocence shows a room interior with a pencil drawing of two men that's actually part of the video. On one wall of this room is a huge yellow panel with a yellow blob drooping from it--a painting/sculpture that references Hemmert's earlier yellow sculptures and signals that we're in an art gallery. Then two live men enter in color video--and quickly start fighting. Golgotha also involves a sketch, of a Crucifixion scene, and its color figures include a dancing girl. (Schmeiss-u. schubs-ausstellung)1 is another interior with people milling about as if at a gallery opening while objects fall from above, among them a giant gob of paint that lands on a wall. The traditional artistry and comparative certitude of drawing is rendered archaic by the humor of these absurdist video happenings (several use imagery from Fassbinder films), while the tension between moving video and static drawings suggests a fascination with and respect for the possibilities of both. Vedanta, 835 W. Washington, through December 31. Hours are 10 to 6 Tuesday through Friday and 11 to 5 Saturday; 312-432-0708.

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