Lives and Works: Penang
Eurasian artist Philip Hemnell appropriates familiar cartoon imagery borrowed from western comics and Japanese manga, and melds mediums like painting, stenciling, photography and traditional printmaking into approachable yet arresting art pieces. Born in Ipoh to an English father and Chinese mother, and influenced by both distinct cultures, Hemnell has always been about bridging seemingly opposite realms.
Philip was born in Malaysia in 1961 and pursued an academic path in engineering and finance. He has worked in finance for the last twenty-six years with excursions into filmmaking and computer animation. Throughout, he has remained committed to art as a passionate pastime, his style heavily influenced by time spent in New York and Los Angeles where he lived from 1989 to 2002. There, Philip immersed himself in gallery and museum shows by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Chuck Close, James Rosenquist, Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon and Ed Ruscha.
Despite moving back to Singapore in 2003, New York continues to motivate Philip’s works, a city where fly posting on the walls, amidst the decay in advertising, has turned the streets into a platform for 21st century Pop art. Philip’s painting, printmaking and stenciling explore his fascination with found art and this collage of the urban experience. Cartoon imagery, both familiar Western characters and more obscure Japanese manga figures, also appear in Philip’s work, in each instance manipulated to create an original identity with novel, global influences permeating the re-imagined cultural icon.
Philip works mostly on canvas, each unique piece created by painting and stenciling. He also produces multiple images via print making techniques such as screen-printing, stone lithography and etching. A keen photographer with a background in computers, Philip regularly incorporates the digital realm into his works while also experimenting with unexpected mediums. Most recently he has been customizing designer handbags for his female friends. Philip artwork is in both personal and corporate collections around the world, from Los Angeles and New York to Hong Kong and Singapore. He is now based in Penang.
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