Both based in Berlin, these artists create tightly knit narratives inspired by ancient mythologies, natural elements, and the intricacies of the human experience.
Tom Anholt (b. 1987, United Kingdom) constructs compositions in which figuration slowly transforms into abstraction. Experimenting with techniques informed by multiple references including illuminated manuscripts, Anholt brings together subtly outlined figures layered on multi-colored backgrounds. Approaching the series as if he were a musician putting together an album, he creates vast variation in mood and subject matter, but ties the individual works together with a coherent style, recurring forms, and consistent mark making.
Anholt’s works often originate in collage and watercolor studies; his densely layered imagery is then transposed into painting and refined with a certain cinematic sensibility; cuts and crops, zooms and layers, bind together to form a narrative. The viewer in this exhibition is a time traveller; the action takes place simultaneously in ancient and contemporary worlds. His intricate Living in the City describes the very common and every day experience of walking through an urban environment: the pace, the way figures are connected yet anonymous. Pygmalion, however, is inspired by the Greek myth of the sculptor who falls in love with his creation which then comes to life. Transcending a mere illustration of a linear narrative, Anholt’s work is an amalgamation of the artist’s fears, desires, and influences woven together and connected with his abstract and formal concerns.
A graduate of the Chelsea College of Art, Tom Anholt has had recent solo exhibitions at Josh Lilley, London, EIGEN + ART, Berlin, 1969 Gallery, New York and Mikael Andersen, Copenhagen. Anholt participated in the painting survey “KNOWN/UNKNOWNS” at the Saatchi Gallery, London.
Chris Hammerlein (b. 1962, Cincinnati, OH) makes polychromatic ceramics, painterly stories in the round, evoking Moreau and Ensor, Redon, the jungle paintings of Rousseau, the Romantic passion and psychology of Stubbs and Fuseli. A blend of material (glazed burnt clay, ink and watercolor), Hammerlein’s sculptures are inspired by nature and include beasts and fantastical figures acting as metaphors for the human condition.
In Orfeo, an owl contemplates the grueling scene of the body of Orpheus torn to pieces by delirious clowns who vomit rainbows. In Red Sun, the owl reappears among the leaves above a startled horse, and a prowling lion is oblivious to the monkey sitting quietly in foliage overhead. Members of the composition are not connected directly; there is a near-missed quality in their relationships to one another. As with much of Hammerlein’s work, he stages his actors within a dramatic moment, which is familiar yet distinctively his own.
Chris Hammerlein has recently exhibited at Schlachthaus, Berlin, Sorry We Are Closed, Brussels and Cruise & Callas, Berlin. His work is included in various collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.