Andy Hermann: Two Ghosts

Andy Hermann

Artwork’s Title: Two Ghosts
Materials Used: Oil on canvas
Studio-Based: Zurich
Andy Hermann, Two Ghosts, Oil on canvas, 50 cm x 40 cm, 2023

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

The work usually starts off by a drawing or sketch on paper, the idea then is transferred with pencil on canvas and subsequently oil paint is applied. On some occasions, when I want a more neon colour, I also use acrylic neon paint for some parts of the painting. In some more recent abstract works from the series SWEET THIRST OR SLAVES OF FREEDOM, the process is a bit different: the initial inspiration comes from photographs of human silhouettes, moving bodies, sculptures, design pieces and patterns I have taken myself or discovered. Having these photos as a starting point on my phone, screen or printed out, I start applying different colours of oil paint on canvas which emulate these photos. I then use different sized brushes to create new patterns, where different colours of paint are mixed. This process includes unplanned strokes and movements of paint, as at some point, I leave the initial photo behind and work more abstract.

At this point, I have also occasionally used graffiti spray, I like how the colour runs down the canvas and creates unexpected, dripping patterns. A challenge of this process is definitely the slow drying time of the oil paint.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I can’t answer this question, since I really can’t define my work in 3 words. It’s like defining your soul, feelings, thoughts, emotions and skills with three words; it is not something easy to describe, summarise or paraphrase.

Could you share with us some insights on your ‘Two Ghosts’, (2023) painting? Is there any particular story behind this new work?

Yes, there indeed is. While exiting the train from Zurich on a winter evening with sub-zero temperatures, I suddenly see two elderly women, walking hand in hand in front of me on the platform, they have the same hairdo, height, as if they are two twin-sisters, the only differing thing is their jacket, very likely of the same design but in differing shades, one red and one blue. This image appealed to me and I took a picture of the scene because of the combination of red (can be a colour of warning and alarm) and blue (can be a colour as a symbol of peace, harmony, loyalty, friendship and faith). It is the first abstract painting II ever did. This juxtaposition of opposing warm and cool colours may create a sense of electricity on the surface of the work.

Through this painting, I am trying to convey emotions of belonging, security, trying to feel at home in a strange, new place. Maybe the emotions (Ukrainian) war refugees or asylum seekers feel when arriving in Switzerland. And of warmth, love and friendship in the test of time. It is the first abstract painting I ever made.

Visually, there is a strong use of bright colours on your canvases; is there any particular colour that inspires the most?

No, not really. I like this contrast between dark and light colours, warm and cool colours. I am also fascinated by patterns and how different combinations can arise while oil paint is mixed with brushes on paintings. Finally, what I truly find inspiring are colour transitions, like from red, orange over to yellow, or from dark blue to light blue.

Paying attention to your various works, it feels like you are either involved into abstraction or more figurative compositions as well; would you say that there is a sort of creative path you feel more keen on?

I am currently more keen on developing and experimenting with my abstract work, combined with techniques I developed in my figurative compositions such as thick paint, mixed media as well as probably the series the Reader of the Touch, with small scale paintings of everyday objects.

Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you usually come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning of your artistic process?

Ideas and inspirations come at all sorts of places, from observing the world and people on the street, in a (fast food) restaurant, in the train station or on the internet/ social media. In order to remember random thoughts and ideas which come up unexpectedly, I take notes and save everything as notes or emails in my phone or take screenshots of inspiring things found on the net. My work includes meditations on everyday life and the world.

The more abstract works are created by random experiments, while often, as mentioned before, there is an underlying photo or picture to get started. I like experimenting with layers of oil paint, combined with spray and also the use of acrylic paint on certain areas of the work. In the past I also used nail polish on certain works.

What would be the best way to exhibit your work?

There’s not one single best way for me, either in a gallery setting, in artist run spaces with other artists or as a solo show. One way can be as part of a gallery; here I am looking for a gallery which ideally supports my practice and production. Also things I might consider is if the gallery has art fair participation, which other artists the gallery is representing and what credibility their program brings.

Another way are off-spaces or artist-run exhibition spaces. In these spaces I am looking for autonomy, the freedom of experimentation to showcase my work and innovate, away from a commercial setting, established curators and museums. Another thing I am looking for in these places are opportunities for fostering synergies with other artists by facilitating collaborations, networking and sharing equipment, knowledge and skills. The diversity of such projects in Zurich is steadily increasing, which is great.

Last December, I had my first solo exhibition in Zurich “On Fire Inside a Snowball” at L200, a shared space at Langstrasse 200.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

Just to name a few: Ida Ekblad, Pia Fries, Klodin Erb, Alexandra Bachtezis, Wedro Pirz, Leo Orta, Alex Da Corte, Tom Sachs, Candice Breitz, Ursula Palla, Theo Triantafyllidis, Julian Charrière.
But also artists I have met and mingled with here in Zurich, including Stéphane Zaech, Grégory Sugnaux, Mitchell Anderson, Marcello Concari, Ana Hofmann, Marius Steiger.

Inspiring is also Louise Bourgeois (I feel a connection to her writings and texts (from her diaries, on the backs of drawings, and on several sheets of paper) as well as Gérard Schneider ( I firstly came across his work at a solo show at Galerie Perrotin Paris last fall, co-curated by my friend Isotta Bosi).

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

My studio space is located in an old, historical building in the middle of the old town of Horgen, Switzerland, 100m from the lake of Zürich, which currently also serves as a living space. It is place, which is easily convertible, and which gives me both the peace of mind to concentrate on my work but also the ideal inspiration when at the lake or spending time at the local Museum Sust which is just next door.

Which are your plans for the near future?

Continue working hard, loving what I do and sharing it with my peers, maybe in form of a group show. In addition, I have some ideas of sculptures and video art work I am keen to work on in the near future.

Andy Hermann in his studio, March 2023; photo by Cyrill Brüderli
Andy Hermann. Meditation on a Grapefruit, Oil and Spray on canvas, 50 cm x 40 cm, 2023
Andy Hermann, Suga Dada, Oil & Acrylic on canvas, 50 cm x 40 cm, 2023
Andy Hermann. For the first time in forever, Oil and Spray on canvas, 40 cm x 50 cm, 2023


All images courtesy of the artist

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