One sees stacks of newspapers, files scattered haphazardly about and papers stuffed onto shelves: the untidy workroom looks as if it were kept in fluttering disorder by recurrent wind. Everything is painted in delicate pastels. The perspective puts the beholder at a somewhat elevated and oblique vantage point, with the gaze drifting off into the distance, as if it were cast upon a seaport from above, with variously colored containers arranged in rows like the keys of a typewriter or the pieces of a gigantic puzzle.
Thomas Hartmann is, very literally, a man of letters, a panegyrist of printed matter, in which the existential is both abstracted and condensed. And yet in many of his works he also confronts the human form itself, which for the most part appears as a mass. Every human being is engulfed in his or her night, secure and at the same time exposed in the multitude, whose inscrutable doings are captured for a moment in brushstrokes and texture lines.
Hartmann occupies a unique position within contemporary art, navigating between drawing and painting with a highly developed sensitivity to forms, colors and composition. He is a master of visual rhythmization, organizing his modules in a way that might be taken as a visualization of Charlie Parker's syncopated solos.
He creates energy fields that threaten to burst from inner tension, while at the same time awakening the impression of almost transcendental contemplation. For Thomas Hartmann, categories like abstract and figurative are irrelevant: he reads figurative information out of the formless configuration of the painting surface; in expansive serial arrangements he transforms tangible objects into abstract signs. He recognizes the sublime in the profane, and the banality of unchangingly programmed lives in that which is commonly taken for the sublime. Occasionally he allows himself a detour into humor and caricature, as in Chair on Man, in which the picture becomes a joke and the joke a picture. Within the post-postmodern milieu of today's art world, Thomas Hartmann is a solitary agent who, in dialectic play between pure structure and motif, attempts to decipher the narrative between the lines. He has found a relaxed freedom of formulation, creating work of a secular age in which one can recognize a metaphysic of the everyday.
Schleifmühlgasse 1A, A-1040 Vienna