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 protagonists 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.
Lothar Hempel’s work has been exhibited continuously since the early 1990s, most recently in solo exhibitions at Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2008), and Le Magasin, Grenoble (2007). Recent group shows include the 7th Gwangju Biennale, Korea, Lustwarande Skulpturenpark, Tilburg, The Netherlands, and the Barbican Art Gallery, London (all 2008). This yearʼs projects will include Art by the Sea, Beaufort 03 in Ostend, Jean-Luc Blanc: Opéra Rock, CAPC Musée d`Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, Heaven, Athens Biennale, and the Biennale Estuaire Nantes—Saint-Nazaires.