Hermann Amann’s Fluorescent Paintings At Half Gallery
For his first exhibition, “Fluorescence,” in New York, 76-year-old French painter, Hermann Amann, is showing seven paintings on paper at Half Gallery in the Lower East Side. The intimate show, curated by Alexis Dahan (a Wmagazine.com contributing photographer), features Amann’s fluorescent abstractions from 2005-2010, pieces selected by Dahan from a vast collection spanning 40 years of work. Dahan, who, at 17, worked as Amann’s secretary in Paris, met gallery owner, Bill Powers, first introducing him to the artist’s work. “There are three of us who own the gallery,” explained Powers the day before Amann’s first stateside opening last week, “and so we all rotate. I like to show a mix of really new, emerging people as well as older artists who haven’t had a gallery show in awhile.”
Amann in his Avignon studio in 2001.
This show, Dahan explains, is meant to highlight the artist’s “New Pigmentation,” a style of painting he developed using a mix of fluorescent pigments and polymer gel. For Amann, an artist obsessed with reading and learning about color theory, this breakthrough formula was a pivotal turning point in his work. The result of this mixture is a fluorescent red so strong and bright that is impossible to reproduce, its vibrancy lost and dulled in photographs. “It is very important to see Amann’s paintings in person,” says the curator. “It’s an interesting thing in this digital age, paintings that are unable to be reproduced. I’m very excited that his work is finally being shown in America, so people here can see these amazing fluorescent colors.”
Bill Powers and Alexis Dahan on opening night last Thursday.
To temper his explosive hues, the artist employs another device, a series of black and white shapes, or as he calls them, “particles,” that serve to create a figure-ground relationship in the paintings. The shapes, which vary between an infinity symbol and the particle (two black outlined circles connected with a line), not only break up areas of extreme brightness, but also serve to easily glide one’s eye up, down and around the canvas, drawing the viewer inside and keeping them there. It’s a device, no question, yet Amann clearly understands his craft, creating paintings that bring up questions of spatial relationships, color theory and abstraction.
Hermann Amann “Fluorescence” at Half Gallery, 208 Forsyth St., New York, NY. Through January 22nd.