Emma Hartman, “New Work”

Stockholm, 11.10–11.11  2012

During this fall’s second exhibition, our gallery is filled with the brilliant and fluent oil paintings of Emma Hartman. Here we are introduced to a variety of spaces when isolated architectural portals meet wide, desolate landscapes with endless horizons. This Stockholm-based artist has an abstract and direct appeal, grounded in that most fundamental tenet of painting: color.

Hartman is continually conscious of the color experiences which await us in the bustle of the everyday. Her collections of observations are invigorated in her artistic work. After working figuratively for several years in art school, her pleasure in the creative process waned, until abstraction became a welcome turning point. Hartman: ”When I took up the brush and painted abstractly, and in large scale, it began flowing again. I suddenly remembered that it was artists like Mark Rothko, Paul Klee, and Wassily Kandinsky who initially inspired me. My big interest had been color the whole time.”

Hartman plays with dimension and gravity, which reflects the technical process in which multiple layers of color are applied consecutively. The canvases twist and turn, sometimes they lay on the floor and she paints from above. The result is experienced in one moment as heavily weighted, and in another as floating weightlessly. She says: ”I work until I’m satisfied with the balance, when the horizon feels like it truly exists. And even if a painting is finished in a single day, I still keep it in the studio a long time. Even finished works need time to cure.” Some works take up to two years until completion.

Hartman is true to her characteristic expression, but if her work previously was dominated by a dark gloominess and seductive concealment, these new paintings clearly incorporate a spacious landscape aesthetic. Here, both light and movement have worked their way into the painting, which consequently has become increasingly clear. Hartman likens the creative process to having a large net in which one can capture things and then examine them. Painting as the desire to discover something, preferably something yet unexplored. ”There is an austerity which has characterized my painting for several years. I’m freer today. I still utilize the austerity, but it gives me the courage to accept a more open relationship. It’s still color which interests me, hovering between abstraction and the figurative. It cannot entirely be pinned down and defined.”

Emma Hartman was born in Örebro, in 1974. She lives and works in Stockholm. After early studies at the Gerlesborg School of Art in Stockholm, she graduated from the Umeå School of Fine Arts in 2006. Since the graduate exhibition at Bildmuseet in Umeå, Hartman has had several solo exhibitions in Sweden as well as being awarded with several notable scholarships, supported by the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts.