Joe Amrhein at Jochen Hempel Gallery, Leipzig

Translation by Joe Amrhein opens Saturday, January 14th from 11am-9pm as the first show at Jochen Hempel Gallery. The show will be up until February 26th, 2012.

[…]Enter Joe Amrhein, founder, as most of you know, of the fabulous Pierogi gallery, longtime pioneer of the Williamsburg arts scene, all-around beloved guy, and a brilliant artist who puts real, meaty substance into that eternally misty ideal, the “artist-run-gallery.” If we are to believe his story, young Joe spent part of his early adulthood in Southern California as a sign painter, crouched in front of store windows and climbing scaffolds to detail letters and words and phrases for money, the profits of which he later plowed back into modest abstractions on canvas. (These, I am tempted to believe, riffed on the twin poles represented by the artists Richard Diebenkorn and John MacCracken, Californians who captured, respectively, the natural light and unnatural slickness of the Golden State, though I have no actual evidence to this effect, since Joe is remarkably shut-mouthed about his hippie days.)
After his move to New York, Joe wandered a few years in the wilderness of the Manhattan art world, founded the well- timed Pierogi (which, as initiates well know, was originally dubbed Pierogi 2000), held an exhibition of his abstractions at Earl McGrath Gallery, and finally found his life’s artistic metier where he least expected it—right in front of his nose. A method that contained his ambitious ideas about painting and conceptualism within a set of limited but terrifically economic formal strictures, Joe’s “discovery” turned out to be a fabulous vehicle for his disciplined, ambitious and preternaturally youthful energies. Taking his cue from Robert Smithson’s notion that “writing on art replaces presence by absence by substituting the abstraction of language for the real thing,” Amrhein returned to the sign painting of his early days, except this time to genuinely creative and original effect. […]

Christian Viveros-Fauné

Jochen Hempel Gallery