May 12th, 2020

Lothar Hempel at Mehdi Chouakri

Artist: Lothar Hempel

Venue: Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin

Exhibition Title: FREITAG DER 13

Date: March 13 – May 30, 2020

Click here to view slideshow

Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.


Images courtesy of Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin

Press Release:

FREITAG DER 13. (amateur / amateurin) Plot

– in 1958 at camp crystal lake
– to have sex
– twenty-one years later
– the transient and the disjointed – young boy who drowned

Emma Stern: ‘Your new exhibition is titled “Friday the 13th”, which brings to mind superstition and misfortune. What does the title mean, and isn’t it absolutely crazy to give an exhibition this title? Aren’t you downright provoking misfortune?’

Lothar Hempel: ‘Actually, the exhibition should have had an entirely different title: “IL MIO NOME É NESSUNO”. A really good one! It would have alluded to the Mediterranean, film and sound, wanderings and departures, friendships and defeats, cunning, deception, and invisible nights—motifs that I am quite concerned with at the moment and which also crop up in the exhibition. But unfortunately, that was not possible, because it almost transformed me into a mirrored turtle! So instead I chose a date as the opening is in fact on a Friday the 13th.’

– poisoned water in 1962 – unseen person
– her throat
– contextual horizon


14 days later. Emma Stern dictates: ‘I am standing alone here in an empty, primitive wooden hut, a kind of scenery by a lake. By way of trial, paintings by Lothar are hanging on the walls; they will probably also be on show in Berlin at a later stage. The formats are rather small; the colours resemble those of frescoes, light and almost pastel, very outmoded. The pictures are cool and unapproachable, seemingly far away and hermetic, and yet sentimental and intimate. There is an escapist element here, but it remains impalpable… I wonder whether these paintings are really intended as paintings?’

– an arrow
– a thunderstorm approaches – it details in elegant restraint – have sex
– vintage operation

Emma Stern on the phone: ‘I received a postcard from Lothar today. It is not clear from where it was sent. On the front is an elephant with painted ornaments; it is walking through a fortress. A kind of platform with an image of a woman wearing a fox mask is strapped onto the elephant’s back. This might be a festive parade or some other ritual. A carnival? But maybe it’s a work by Lothar, or something that inspires him to produce a work, or something that he wishes were one of his works.’

– lights turn on
– indifference
– works continuously framed and reframed – phones disconnected
– the cars inoperable

February 17, one month before the exhibition. Emma Stern in conversation with Lothar Hempel. Emma Stern: ‘The installation that you are making for the main room of the gallery is called “Les Amateurs”. One can see a yak, a bird of prey, and the actress Anne Wiazemsky who is wrapped in fur. They stand on a raft as if to embark on an endless journey. What is the message of this work?’

Lothar Hempel: ‘The image of Anne Wiazemsky is interesting. It possibly stems from the lost film “IL SEME DELL’UOMO” by Marco Ferreri. Anyway, I received the image from a friend, and it stimulated me to imagine the plot of the film and to fantasise. I think that this woman (Anne) turns into an animal in protest against humanity. She refuses, and humans go extinct. Later she wanders the world alone and befriends wild animals, trees, and stones. In the end, they (the amateurs) set the world alone and befriends wild animals, trees, and stones. In the end, they (the amateurs) set off on a final great journey into the unknown’.

Emma Stern: ‘Then your sculpture is similar to a fictitious film’s poster?’

Lothar Hempel: ‘The sculpture marks a threshold; it is a crossing you can use.’

Emma Stern: ‘An opening in the room? A connection between different spheres? A dissolution?’ Lothar Hempel: ‘Possibly a tool, something really tangible! A prayer!’

– at the shore
– only to be remembered – oral friend
– decapitates
– sailor nobody

The Year of the Rat. Berlin.

Emma Stern: ‘When I now walk through Berlin—I haven’t been here for years—it’s shocking to see how quickly things disappear, how the city changes. It brings tears to my eyes.’

Lothar Hempel: ‘It’s like that everywhere. The whole world is in rapid motion, dissolving, evaporating, disappearing—which is understandable! Nevertheless, I have the feeling that everything simultaneously stagnates. As if we humans were paralysed, awaiting something.’

Emma Stern: ‘How can one continue to make art at the moment? I know that’s a question that has probably been asked throughout history. Probably it’s precisely the wrong question because art is not a commentary on time.’

Lothar Hempel: ‘Exactly, I believe that art creates something like time in the first place.’

Emma Stern: ‘You’re one of the few people I know who always believes in art, who always defends it. That’s pleasant, but also a little… Why do you stick so firmly to this construct? Wouldn’t it be important to concentrate on something new now, something that can replace art? Wouldn’t it be incredibly liberating after a hundred thousand years to say: that’s enough, art! Now comes something else! What do you think? Why?’

– to forgoe a broader narrative – old boy
– imitation of
– she awakens inside
– at peace


Lothar Hempel, born 1966 in Cologne, lives and works in Berlin. Using various media (sculpture, painting, installation, video, performance), Hempel merges the abstract and the figurative in dramatic, stage-like arrangements. Contradictions and cross-references to society, history and psychology as well as other media systems, such as theatre, dance and film, are a crucial part of the works. Hempel also considers his sculptural constellations to be narrative machines into which the viewers are drawn to fill them with their imagination. FREITAG DER 13. is the artist’s first solo exhibition with Mehdi Chouakri.

Works by Hempel have been presented in solo exhibitions, i.a. at Anton Kern Gallery, New York (2020), Modern Art, London (2018), ITALIC, Berlin (2018), Public Art Fund, New York (2015), The Kitchen, New York (2014), Art:Concept, Paris (2012), OSL contemporary, Oslo (2009), Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2008), Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble (2007), Institute of Contemporary Arts London (ICA), London (2002), and at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1998). Furthermore, the artist has participated in numerous group exhibitions, i.a. at the Santander Art Gallery, Madrid (2020), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017), Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac (2013), Barbican Art Gallery, London (2008), ZKM Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe (2007), The Saatchi Gallery, London (2006), and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (1999).

Link: Lothar Hempel at Mehdi Chouakri

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