Rebellion - Painting as Awareness of LifeThe official art of the German Democratic Republic of the 1980s was largely shaped by the dogma of socialist realism - a routinized and figurative painting style whose function was to support and illustrate the state’s ideological view of society.
It is entirely consistent that the title of one of the first pictures in which Linde R. Hartmann publicly announces her break with the painting style prescribed by Leipzig University is “Fürchte dich nicht” (”Don’t be afraid”). What now follows is no cautious quest, rather the direct expression - the visceral made into art - of a powerful yearning to transcend. Her painting becomes the most direct and gripping graphic representation of struggle and turmoil, and still transfixes the observer today.
Anyone who wants to categorize the totality of Linde Hartmann’s work and place it neatly in an art history pigeonhole has a real job on their hands. When you look at her work, you are confronted by a broad spectrum of different techniques and artistic approaches.
The first insight: here, change itself is the common thread. Linde R. Hartmann openly rejects the rehashing of one-off solutions and the construction of a standardized formal language, if you will, as a “brand”.
One element that unites all her work is a characteristic painting style that defies normal painting conventions and is strongly defined by a graphic approach almost bursting with tension.
When you look closer, what reveals itself behind the whole complex of paintings, drawings and collages is a basic motivation concerned with giving expression to an attitude to life determined by a particular era. Look below the surface of an intensive and mostly expressive exploration of color and form, and you will find encoded emotions, contradictions and configurations that challenge the observer to constantly reinterpret the work.
Ansgar van Zeul, 2002
Linde Hartmann devoted a large part of her artistic works in the years 2007 to 2009 to the theme of ‘Dog’, or rather, as I see it, to the theme of how we view, interpret and value a living counterpart; which possibilities are offered by painting for an artistic inquiry of this kind.
Even when we seek something closed, unified and dependable, with known quantities, our perception is constantly influenced and altered by convention, time and our approach to the task.
Linde Hartmann’s current works orbit around this conditionality of perception, the different facets involved in observing an object or a situation.
In its ambivalence towards man, in its otherness and in its familiarity, the dog is the medium Linde Hartmann uses to give her ideas an artistic treatment. “Playing with the dog” - part of the title says it already - in these works the dog is not presented merely as a subject for painting. Rather, it is turned and rotated, observed from the most diverse of perspectives and placed in a variety of contexts.
In these pictures the dog represents many things. As man’s oldest companion, yet not as a person nor either just a mere object, it can impart a distance and a closeness which mirror the observer, revealing his individuality. But also the ‘reservoir of dog shapes’ is also the starting point for a spectrum of different and simultaneous formulations.
Linde R. Hartmann spreads a multilayered pictorial tableau before us. New tones have been added to her stylistic range. Beside the gestural formulations, strongly determined by the spontaneity of the drawing and by impulse, are also large, calm, completed areas of color; alongside the nervous pulsating of the color areas are areas of great serenity. The different modes of approach pose the question of the relationship between the objective, the subjective and the real; they allow an access that is always fresh, and challenge us to scrutinise rigid modes of observation.
Ansgar van Zeul, im Februar 2009
„Lustwandeln“ (Strolling), the almost forgotten art of leisurely and unintentional wandering through the landscape, this title is a metaphor that connects all the works shown here.
Speed and goal fixation often restrict our perception; and questions of perception that are always the subject of the artist Linde Hartmann.
In the walk of pleasure, space and time are decoupled, images emerge and disappear. This type of transportation is in stark contrast to the prevailing rhythm of our world, which is oriented towards efficiency and maximum output. In the case of Linde Hartmann, it can be the ever-repeated view of a mahonia in front of the window, which at different times mixes with equally different inner images and reveals the many different ways of perceiving the moment. As in an experimental arrangement, she strings together image after image, based on the same linear basic construction.
And a game begins: the evaluation of object and background, surfaces and forms. The positive and negative forms as well as the colour palette change. Ever new chains of association are created. The picture as starting point and projection surface at the same time.
Another aspect of Linde Hartmann's work is the complexity of vision. The picture we make is not created by an isolated optical process like a photograph. All sensory experiences are inscribed in our seeing. Thus, in the large-format painting "Lustwandeln" (Pleasure Walking/Strolling), which gives the title to the group of works, we find figures that rest strangely in motion, each in an individual and at the same time stylised formulation between contemplation and expression. A multitude of small forms are spun like a net over the picture ground as a second level. They overlap, buzz and shimmer, dance and tumble, and refer to the complexity of looking.
These structures change the underlying colour surfaces by relating to them, subordinating them, but also charging them and enriching them with their energy. Through the elaborate filigree overdrawing, time is inscribed into the painting in a very concrete way. The desire to change is the program of Linde Hartmann's work. This desire for change and playful transformation is nourished by the joy of making discoveries in an artistic process and of bringing to light the multitude but also the conditionality of the possibilities of implementation inherent in a subject. In this way, we as viewers are surprised and challenged again and again to question entrenched ways of seeing and to participate in the joy of change.
Ansgar van Zeul, April 2011