Mike Hammer was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and grew up in a close-knit family that shares his passion for visual arts and music.
His unique path began with studies in psychology and education and branched out to the visual arts.
Since 2001, he and his father, Mosh, a renowned violinist, have collaborated on several occasions, forming an impressive duo that inspires and surprises audiences around the world with Beethoven meets Pollock, an innovative show that merges classical music with live artistic creation. While his father performs various pieces, Mike transforms the melodies into spontaneous action paintings and drawings.
Since these beginnings, Hammer has expanded his exploration of abstraction, and, along the way, developed a myriad of fascinating techniques. From the shimmering colors and tactile allure of his optically engaging Stripes paintings to his psychedelic Spiral paintings, his works have garnered attention across the globe.
Hammer's pictorial works are rooted in abstract expressionism, inspired by Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter. He creates unique action paintings that consist of large "drippings" and plays with straight lines and curves using squeeze bottles to create sustained movement.
Hammer’s work celebrates the vitality and strength of color and simultaneously aims to push the boundaries of what paintings can be. His focus has always been on abstraction, because he has never really believed that ideas are crucial in art, instead being entranced by non-conceptual elements.
In 2005, Hammer began using squeeze tubes exclusively for dispensing paint spontaneously producing various forms of tactile, color-based, patterned, non-representational works.
In 2013, Hammer’s perspective shifted when he viewed the pour paintings of Holton Rower, who used a simple, yet highly effective, material-intensive process to achieve unparalleled contrast, movement and pattern-based interest in his works.
In 2015, inspired by Rower, Hammer produced a series of paintings by pouring color over color in various locations to result in a myriad of organic and coalescing shapes. He started with a wet-on-wet process where each work was created in one sitting but achieved a breakthrough when he allowed the initial pour layer to dry completely before applying more paint. Each pour produced and maintained a perfect circle. These circles, or “blobs” now form the basis of his work.
After 10 years of producing multiple series, each based on a new way to manipulate a specific brand of acrylic paint, Hammer developed a process that enables him to build up a panel significantly while maintaining sublime color contrast and endless, mind-boggling patterns.
The resulting “blob” paintings have no meaning. There is no conceptual framework behind the works. Hammer is simply building three-dimensional works out of paint, applying it like liquid clay, layer by layer, presenting it as a sculptural object with wildly visceral color combinations to offer viewers a radical and fresh experience.
While each “blob” is an individual entity with a unique size, shape and series of colors, it also sustains a relationship and connection to the rest of the blobs. Like an Albers Homage work, blobs are composed of various color schemes, from analogous or complementary colors to shades of a single hue to alternating colors that create a Dr. Suess effect. Staying true to his spirit of experimentation, Hammer often includes garish or obviously mismatched colors.
While each blob exists on its own, the work as a whole is unified through visual processing by the viewer. The resulting works of art are pure visual pleasure with paint as both subject and object and contrasting color combinations as visual stimulation.