A walk through any major museum will reveal paintings that depict or legitimate only certain kinds of experience. Despite the good intentions of critical theorists questioning the validity of the canon, paintings of the old masters on the walls of museums like the Met, the Louvre, Rijks museum still have a certain cache. They're revered not just for their technique but because they enshrine our collective past experience. Of course, it's a selected past that gets validated. Conspicuously absent to me as a gay man is my own story. By presenting contemporary males as objects of desire in familiar looking art historical settings, I'm able to imagine (and allow viewers to imagine) a past that includes rather than excludes gay experience-and ride the coattails, as it were, of art history's imprimatur.
Hempel was born in El Monte, CA, in 1953 and received his BA from Cal State Northridge in 1985 and his MA from UC Boulder in 1988. He has exhibited extensively throughout the US since 1987 and his paintings are included in numerous private and public collections including the Denver Art Museum, Microsoft Art Collection, and the New Britain Museum of American Art (CT), among others. He splits his time between Colorado and Arizona.