Untitled, 2009, collage on Formica, 150 x 200 x 6 cm, courtesy of the artist
Irit Hemmo's series of detail-filled collages is composed of thousands of clippings from photographs of various plants. The artist cut each of these images out separately, pasted them onto white Formica surfaces, and wove them into synthetic-looking floral reliefs. Composed of black-and-white and colored components, these images are reminiscent of old-fashioned greeting cards. This body of works bespeaks the obsessive dimension of collecting: a mixture of elements culled from catalogues, gardening and botanical magazines and advertisements containing plant motifs. Her labor-intensive, meticulous work process transforms these crude images into carpets of lush plants imbued with a colorful, "natural" and refreshing quality. The appropriation and domestication of nature presented here is double - taking place first in the magazine image and later in the act of disassembling and reassembling the images into contemporary still lifes. What is preserved here is not nature itself but rather images of nature - a strategy that reflects Hemmo's interest in the tension between life and still life. The artist seems to "pick" the plants out of the photographs, ironically eternalizing them as museum artifacts.
In a body of drawings on copy paper, Hemmo presents typologies of different "things": animals (cows, polar bears), vehicles (cars, caravans, trucks, ships), buildings (high-rises, cottages) and ground plans (of buildings and ships). Like an industrious clerk, she "gathers" and classifies pragmatic, technical diagrams of similar things in an attempt to compare their visual details. Operating according to an internal logic based on the relations between nature and culture, life and still life, Hemmo seemingly restores these "things" to their original state, as if returning them to the stage of a blueprint, while addressing issues concerning generalizations and definitions.
Born in Jerusalem, 1961; lives and works in Tel Aviv