Thomas Hartmann
In diesem Jahr kacken die Störche anders

22 JUN until 3 AUG
Opening – 21 JUN, 6-9 pm

Galerie Georg Nothelfer is pleased to present a solo exhibition of works by the Berlin painter Thomas Hartmann (*1950). The show includes works from the 1980s to the present day.

Thomas Hartmann’s paintings paradoxically embody both a sense of order and a chaotic liveliness. Known since the 1980s for his expressive, impasto landscapes and cityscapes, his work is characterized by a meticulous attention to detail and an almost obsessive inclusion of numerous small figures and elements. The resulting effect is reminiscent of late Gothic hidden object paintings, inviting the viewer to explore the narrative richness of each individual work. Hartmann’s scenes have a timeless quality, as if they dissolve the boundaries between past, present and future. This temporal ambiguity invites us to reconsider our own place in the continuum of time and space.

Thomas Hartmann, Jeder für sich und alle zusammen, 2024,
Oil on canvas, 140 x 120 cm

© The artist; Galerie Georg Nothelfer
Photo: Ole Hartmann

Thomas Hartmann, Von der Unmöglichkeit Ordnung zu halten, 2021,
Oil on canvas, 160 x 130 cm

© The artist; Galerie Georg Nothelfer
Photo: Ole Hartmann

The works presented at the Galerie Georg Nothelfer reflect Hartmann’s continuous development as an artist over four decades. Particularly noteworthy is Hartmann’s willingness to constantly question, re-explore and expand the limitations of his own artistic language. One of the most important aspects of his work is the exploration of the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm. The early paintings of the 1980-90s often show vast, almost overwhelming natural and urban landscapes. In the later works, the artist seems to zoom into these tableaux, subjecting them to a close-up. We discover bookshelves, doorbell signs and other absurdities of everyday life. This juxtaposition seems to emphasize the insignificance of the individual in the grand scheme of the world, while at the same time underlining the importance of every small element in creating it. Hartmann’s humor is often subtly revealed in his compositions and use of surreal elements.

Thomas Hartmann, Berlin Frontal, 1988-90,
Oil on canvas, 170 x 210 cm

© The artist; Galerie Georg Nothelfer

Thomas Hartmann, Seitenansicht, 2021,
Oil on canvas, 100×130 cm

© The artist; Galerie Georg Nothelfer
Photo: Ole Hartmann

“Adding and taking is part of my work.”
Thomas Hartmann (2024)

He infuses his paintings with a playful comparison of objects and figures that almost evoke a sense of whimsy. The works can contain visual puns and clever allusions to art history and life in general, providing irony and wit. Simultaneously, they also are a very personal view of Thomas Hartmann on himself and on modern society. This makes them amusing, but also thought-provoking.

Hartmann’s work, which spans decades, inevitably leads to a huge accumulation of ideas, experiments and concepts. If these do not (or no longer) meet the artist’s requirements, the only option is to discard them – or destroy them. Conceptually, the act of destruction serves as a liberating blow; the catharsis contains the powerful moment of a new beginning. This almost ritualistic approach is now impressively visible in the gallery spaces. The storage shelf taken over from Hartmann’s studio, overflowing with canvases and stretcher frames, becomes an installation sculpture that spans the exhibition space almost like a shrine. It not only forms a bridge between old and new, but also between the past, the present and the future. Once again, we viewers are invited to reflect on our own position in the big picture. 

(Text: Nicola E. Petek)