Our second solo exhibition for PEI artist Hans Wendt features 12 new trompe l’oeil still-life paintings that continue Wendt’s obsession with cut, ripped, torn and stacked paper samples.
Wendt uses as his source material the paper colour swatches that art students use to study colour theory. He creates intricate compositions with the samples, lights them dramatically and then paints large-scale watercolours in a photo-realistic manner.
His work pays homage to both the history of minimalist abstraction and the difficult watercolour medium technique. He is channeling the large abstract paintings of Gerhard Richter, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, but makes the abstractions quite whimsical and playful. There is a figurative aspect to these new watercolours, which Wendt says happened entirely by accident. Each watercolour, with their unnatural and sometimes discordant colours, and their stacked blocks of colour with marvelous rips, deep folds and bends, have very distinct personalities.
Wendt highlights these personalities in two sets of diptych’s and a suite of five smaller watercolours included in the exhibition. The diptych’s, at first glance, seem to be identical paintings, but the subtle differences are meant to give each “twin” a distinct character. The suite of five smaller watercolours are similar in approach. They each contain variations on the same paper samples, arranged in a manner that emphasizes both their similarities and their differences.
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 one year of studies at the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1993. He has also worked in a ceramics studio, as a finish carpenter, cabinetmaker and boat builder. Before his permanent move to Millvale, PEI, he lived in Toronto, LA and Washington where he was known as a co-producer of multimedia performances and designer of sets, Brueghelesque murals and staged events. Since 1999, Wendt has focused on 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 and the Department of Global Affairs and many private collections across Canada and the United States.
He currently lives and works in Millvale, PEI.