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Wes Hempel - Art's New Classical Master
Wes Hempel - Art's New Classical Master
Hillary Clinton wrote her thoughts and experiences from her years in the White House for her new book and entitled them, "Living History." Well, if the super talented artist Wes Hempel wrote or had a book written about his, the title should read "Living Art Master in the Flesh." I say this with a full breath and level head. For this guy's work is moving, inspiring, and definitely collectible. All upperly mobile Gay and Bi guys in the sound of my voice, run...don't walk and buy some of his work. Wes is a visual genius whose work can be proudly hung in any home. Gay or Straight, if you appreciate the male form and have a deep enjoyment for juxaposition, he is the Modern Da Vinci for you. By combining art's historical elements with contemporary figures, he creates a new narrative which allows his paintings to function in a revisionist manner, commenting on aspects of our contemporary culture. Time machine collectors will regret not having his work in their collections. I personally could see his art grace churchs (open to this type of work) a 100 or 200 years into the future. If not the ceilings, similiar to the Vatican, definitely on hospitals or church community centers. Also, if David Geffen or other billionaire gay men are reading this, I could also see people in 2103 going on tours of great estates from our time and seeing his work.

Most of his eye works on non-verbal levels. Engaging viewers to think about the new combination of subjects. For example, in his 2003 painting entitled, "Study for the Elders;" Renaissance scholars study the buff, and shirtless torso of a hot muscle twink plunked right out of our century. The contrast, in my opinion, is somewhat humorous, but definitely not offensive. Instead it validates the male figure and the appreciation of it in a post Neo-Classical fashion while breaking new ground. The slight humor is similiar to the paintings of the farmer and his wife. A poignant, powerful picture which adds beauty, yet documents for posterity the American farmstead. Another portfolio gem that is equally moving, is entitled "Fatherhood." In this great painting, we see a hot stud in a very Romanesque setting clutching babies. The picture could litterally hang in a nursery or a building that helps children. It has beauty that makes the living gay man stop, but at the same time respects the context and subject matter in a skillful presentation. Although this painting was done in 1997, one would think it would be a conservative, art hater's target. But rather, it is so moving one can definitely see that no comments would arise from it. This great work hangs in the Denver Art Museum.

This year alone, Wes claims a solo exhibit entitled, "Plot Twists", which is at the Robischon Gallery in Denver, Colorado. His work also graces the halways of Microsoft. It seems that ole Bill Gates adds a new definition to Geek Chic, by placing such a contemporary yet somewhat homoerotic or at least male focussed work in his super Bat Cave of high-tech capitalism. Well, enough said. Art 101, Wes Hempel, is not. A new classic? Yes...oh certainly yes. So please use 2004 to discover the next great master.

More of Hempel's work can be seen at:

Other Notable Exhibitions:

2003 -
"Summer Group Exhibition," Tatistcheff Gallery, New York
San Francisco International Art Exposition (Jenkins Johnson Gallery), San Francisco
"Magic Realism: A New Generation," Sangre De Christo Art Center, Pueblo, Colorado
"ConTEXT: Art & Words," Western Colorado Center for the Arts, Grand Junction, Colorado
"Fifth Annual Realism Invitational," Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco (catalog)

By Clark David

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