Hans Wendt “Gravibus Non Gravibus”

Hans Wendt “Gravibus Non Gravibus”  April 6 – May 27, 2023

Hans Wendt’s current solo exhibition, “Gravibus Non Gravibus,” is his first with us in 4 years.

Known for his carefully composed still-life watercolours of cut, ripped, torn and stacked paper samples, Wendt uses as his source material the paper colour swatches that art students use to learn colour theory.  By cutting, folding and ripping the paper, Wendt creates intricate arrangements with the paper, lighting them dramatically and then painting large-scale watercolours of each composition in a photo-realistic manner.

With this new series of 13 watercolours, he turns everything on its head.  Instead of focusing on straight-forward minimalist abstract compositions, Wendt has anthropomorphizing the paper samples, injecting the new work with personality, humour and levity.  The colourfield paintings take on life, where absurd conversations and dramas ensue.

The title of the exhibit, “Gravibus Non Gravibus”, translates to “heavy, not heavy”.  As with all of Wendt’s work, the watercolours are “paintings about painting”, however, in this exciting series he has personalized the compositions, creating absurdist characterizations and ironic juxtapositions.

Hans Wendt

“In general, I aspire to make paintings that are both accessible, whether through colour, humour or other means, open-ended, mysterious, offering several contradictory realities at once.

In the past, I was dedicated to using the materials found around my studio as the source material to make colourful compositions.  It was a way of engaging with the practice of painting and our expectations around it.  The watercolours were sometimes interpreted as dialogues between abstraction and “realism,” or on the interaction between photographic image and painting.
Although I am interested in these “metapainting” questions, and I am sticking to the basic elements of my method, in my more recent work I am making references that are less explicitly about painting itself.  Subject matter includes contemporary politics, art history, personal stories about my own mental health and childhood, and a generally absurdist or comic outlook.  In many cases, I am making the ridiculous literal – often by adding eyes, noses and feet to inanimate objects or ideas – our way of imagining colours and forms “taking on a life of their own” in the space of art.  My  titles come out of the same absurdist attitude, mixing the gravity and silliness of artistic endeavour.   Hans Wendt, April 2023

Hans Wendt was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1973 and raised in Prince Edward Island.  He has been active as an artist in various mediums for most of his adult life, but began painting seriously following studies at the Ontario College of Art and Design in the 1990s.  Since 1999 he has turned his focus to the creation of conceptually driven watercolour paintings.

Recent public gallery exhibitions include “Oh, Canada”, MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, Esker Foundation, Calgary and Gallerie d’Art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen, Moncton NB; “Hans Wendt/Studio Painting”, Confederation Centre Art Gallery; and “In/Flux: Migrating Culture and Cultural Modernism in PEI”, Confederation Centre Art Gallery.

In 2013 he was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award. His work is in the public collections of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, Department of Global Affairs, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank.

He currently lives and works in Millvale, PEI.  “Gravibus Non Gravibus” is dedicated to Hans Wendt’s nephew Felix Wendt.

Link to Artist’s Page HERE


Funding for this project is (partially) provided by Innovation PEI through the PEI Culture Action Plan