Herbert Hamak

Galerie Rolf Ricke

Herbert Hamak steadfastly maintains that his colorful objects invading the space are paintings, paintings that despite their unusual depth are concerned with color—with its true value, intensity, radiation, and sensitivity to light. In order to allow the true nature of color to appear, Hamak developed a special technique. Rather than painting, he mixes natural pigments with a medium developed especially for him by a chemist, and then adds wax. In several layers, he pours this mixture into a frame, creating color fields that are several centimeters thick. He then lays this image on a canvas.

Through this process, his color objects gain an unusual quality. One doesn’t look at the color in his objects; one experiences it. This is decisive in differentiating these objects from others that deal with color. The colors become a physical mass of density, warmth, and softness, and it is possible to experience these qualities almost corporeally.

Normally the surface of a painting reflects light, but in Hamak’s works light penetrates the paintings. It goes through them; they are transparent. For this reason their surfaces are not illuminated, light radiates from their center. The source of light seems to be buried somewhere in the painting, and the illumination seems brighter in the center. On the edges light is softer and more diffuse; it radiates into the surrounding space, creating an aura. Hamak’s objects become almost metaphysical.

These are autonomous paintings that need no titles. They build on the color theories of German Romanticism, the belief in depicting the experience of landscape through color, but also on the experiences of the American Color Field painters. Hamak is a researcher in the field of color who presents us with new experiences and explores color’s sensitivity to light.

Noemi Smolik

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.