Although his paintings are seemingly unproblematic, simple and innocent, upon closer examination the works of British artist Gerard Hemsworth become confrontational, disconcerting, and provocative in a slightly uncomfortable way.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
presents fifteen works comprising Hemsworths first solo museum exhibition in the United States. His long career has been devoted to a careful consideration of paintings options, meanings, and tactics. Hemsworths visual language is comprised of line drawings of cartoon-like images, open spaces, and flat muted colors; representational works that have the familiarity of both modernist paintings and storybook pictures. He has developed a project that has allowed him to undermine the seriousness of high modernist art and cultural values, while at the same time providing a space that questions their possibility.
Writers have compared Hemsworths work to the 19th-century romantic landscape painter Casper-David Friedrich, as well as to the contemporary sculptor best known for his giant reproductions of banal objects in stainless steel, Jeff Koons. The absurdity of this gulf indicates the ability of Hemsworths paintings to straddle the sublime and the ridiculous. His paintings are both insistent and subversive, questioning the values and assumptions that the viewer brings to the workthe hidden agenda for which we cannot account.
Gerard Hemsworth has exhibited internationally since the 1970s. He lives and works in London, where he is the Professor of Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London.