Lars Sarto Hempler’s lovely paintings mash up experience in both painting and traditional woodblock printing, leading to a really beautiful fusion of techniques. I love the patterns that emerge from the repetition of prints, as well as the cartoonish characters that charge across some of these surfaces! More at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m from Denmark and live in Aarhus, the second biggest city in the country. I have studied in London at Chelsea College of Art and The Jutland Art Academy.
Before I started at art school, I was working in a graphic print shop and I loved everything about it. After having studied painting for 6 years, paper and ink is the media I’m still most in love with, and what I’m mostly working with.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I made a painting on a woodplate one day when I was a teenager, and realised there was something about doing this that gave me a huge kick! I had always been drawing and creating things with my hands, but never thought about art. After I had shown it to my parents, they took me to see a Francis Bacon exhibition and I was completely blown away by his massive paintings.
What do you like most about working where you do?
Aarhus has, in the last 5 years, been growing a lot in terms of good galleries and art communities. There is also ARoS that is think is the best art museeum in Scandinavia. The city has a size that makes it possible to make it round by foot or tram to see all the openings in one night.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I have been working on developing the blockprinting technique into a format that allows me to work on a large scale and without having to frame the paper behind glass afterwards.
I have also always been interested in righteousness in different forms. It’s something that keeps annoying me about being human and living with humans 🙂
What is your process like?
I can’t decide if research or production is the same thing for me. I need to work to evolve new ideas, but I’m also constantly visiting exhibitions and reading. It’s a non-stop flow. Plus there is the Instagram ocean of keeping up with everything that goes on in the art world.
I do tend to sometimes spend a lot of time thinking about what to do next… I hate this because I know that if I just start working it will eventually evolve into the idea I’m looking for. The last exhibition took me 6 months to do and only had 6 works in it.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
My last show was called FOREVER AND A DAY and there I have been working a lot with repetition and the theme greed.
Greed seems to be more and more the sole reason for all the bad things humans has ever done to the earth.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
I once drove 500 kilometres in a car completely filled with Styrofoam because I needed it for an installation.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I also work as a graphic designer… it helps paying the bills and also a place to get rid of all the desires to draw stuff that is fun to draw, but I can’t use in my practice as an artist.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
A teacher one said to me, “Just because you filled out the canvas doesn’t make it a good piece of art.” It always stuck with me.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Don’t freak out if no one comes to the opening of a show. The opening does not say anything about whether the the work is good or bad.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
It’s all important for support and talking ideas and helping each other. It’s one of those things that is worth investing time in.
Collaboration on exhibitions or discussions about ideas drives the production forwards rather than sitting alone in the studio.
What is your studio like?
Because I’m working mainly with printing there are two big machines in the studio and a few big tables. Although it’s quite new,it has the feeling of an old factory because of all the equipment requirements for block printing. I love the atmosphere of a printshop with old shelves and plants, and the smell of ink and paper.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
Coffee and art podcasts! I also have a playlist called STUDIO that is constantly updated. I work in the studio in all different times of the day, depending on if it’s time to experiment or getting close to a deadline. But having music or podcasts on always gets me in the right mood.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
VERY! But in different ways. The most important one being the network and friendships that were made during the 5 years, both with the teachers and fellow students. It has been the thing that has created a lot of the opportunities in the years after school ended.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
I often get stuck in the situation of doubting if the idea, or work I’m working on, makes sense. I know this sounds like a cliché, but it is just the most awful place to be, because it stops the workflow and makes me extremely frustrated.
How would you define “success” in art?
Whenever I have learned something that gives me possibilities to move ahead with new projects or techniques. There is nothing quite like the that feeling of suddenly being able to see a whole new world open up.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I recently–FINALLY–found a way to work with paper in my works that doesn’t involve framing it behind glass. This has given me a completely new freedom!
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
I have previously been working in different artist run spaces but not at the moment.
I am part of a duo called FLUX CAPACITOR SYNDROME PROJECT that has been running for 10 years.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I have the privilege of spending a whole week working in one of Denmark’s oldest lithographic studios. I’m working on a few new series of lithographs and woodcuts for some upcoming exhibitions.
Find more at larshempler.dk and on Instagram @lars_hempler!
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