Andres Hem (USA)
Raised as the child of Cambodian immigrants in Los Angeles, Andrew Hem’s illustrative paintings bridge disparate aesthetic influences as well as cultural touchstones and sensibilities. Hem’s paintings typically highlight an individual within a group of figures, homing in on the one person who is often somberly staring out from the canvas. Using a cool palette in which the colors do not quite match up with the real world, the artist creates somber moods in illusionistic spaces set at a remove from reality. Although his color scheme—with its supernatural rendering of the natural world—elicits comparisons to impressionism, Hem also echoes graffiti art based on his straightforward and illustrative rendering of figures and space, as well as allusions to street culture, art, and fashion. ..... Born during his parents’ flight from Cambodia in the wake of the Khmer Rouge genocide, Andrew Hem grew up poised in the balance between two cultures — the rural animistic society of his Khmer ancestors, and the dynamic urban arts of the tough Los Angeles neighborhood where his family eventually came to rest. Fascinated by graffiti at an early age, he honed his skills with graphics and composition on the walls of the city before following a passion for figure drawing to a degree in illustration from Art Center College of Design. Working in gouache, oil and acrylic, he weaves atmospheric, richly textured narratives in a vivid palette of twilight blues enlivened by swaths of deep red and splashes of golden light. His haunting impressions of culture and landscape evoke the life of the spirit through the visionary manifestation of memories and dreams.