March 24, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Hidden Perronneau” (2020), photocollage. All illustrations or photos © Volker Hermes, shared with permission

Virtually a ten years right before masks became a ubiquitous portion of our lives, artist Volker Hermes was fashioning lavish encounter coverings produced of bouquets, lace, and ornate baubles. In his ongoing series, Concealed Portraits, Hermes digs into the art historical archive and selects classical paintings that he then reinterprets. Elaborate accessories derived from factors in the primary will work develop into applications for obscuring the subjects’ faces, which subsequently draws interest to their garments, gestures, and surroundings.

Considering that he commenced the prescient collection, Hermes has based his practice in portray even though he realizes each individual portrait digitally. Time has supplied him ample opportunities to delve into the authentic painters’ backgrounds, periods, and the symbolism of numerous fashions, an knowledge bolstered by his costuming work for opera productions.

Now fluent in historical significance, Hermes continues to parse inquiries of illustration in the works and their existing-working day implications. “Each era has its own symbols,” he says. “I always like to point out the Chanel costume as a metaphor for today’s upper-course affiliation. There are of system a lot more latest, additional specific types, but this garment has one thing of a basic visualization of an established elite.”

Other emblems—like the large, black hats built from beaver fur that many adult males don in is effective from the Dutch Golden Age to signify their rank—are more complicated to realize right now. Hermes suggests:

Whoever had this sort of a hat, experienced himself painted with it. But nowadays we really don’t know that any more. We only see males with black hats, which no lengthier trigger just about anything in us. We search the sitters in the encounter as our purely natural approach. If I now exaggerate these types of a hat in my interventions, blocking the access by using the face, the concentration improvements, the viewer is pressured, so to discuss, to look at the portray less than new facets, getting into account the meanings that identified the painting at that time.

From his studio in Düsseldorf, Hermes is making ready new parts for a team show centered all around a concept of clerical representation and pilgrimage, which you can keep up with on Instagram.


“Hidden Pesne” (2021), photocollage

“Hidden Larkin” (2020), photocollage

“Hidden Nameless (Pourbus)” (2020), photocollage

“Hidden Cranach III” (2019), photocollage

“Hidden Liotard VI” (2021), photocollage

“Hidden Pourbus V” (2019), photocollage



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