Los Angeles

Robert Hartman

Comara Gallery

Hartman’s collage-paintings are done in acrylic paints and cut-out photos of early gliders, which are reproduced by a photocopy process uniquely his own. The process allows him to reproduce a photo and control the delicate tonal values of light and dark, which he varies in his final images. The results are airplanes which are ghostly and evocative shadows of shapes, blurred and indistinct apparitions with only their birdlike silhouettes visible. Usually they are placed on top of luminous washes of thin acrylic paint. Some areas are painted with a dry, wispy brush-stroke; other sections of paint are allowed to blur and to flow into an adjacent area, creating an atmospheric, floating feeling which suggests clouds and airy space. Often there is a movement from blank unpainted canvas and sparse brush strokes to an area of dense blues, purples and whites painted with thrusting, expressionistic brushwork, or else overlaid with flat, shimmering color. Hartman’s brush techniques complement and “absorb” his plane photographs; there is no disparity of jagged discontinuity between the two media. They become one. Often his luminous color suspensions are reminiscent of Rothko.

Hartman evokes a great lightness and fantasy in his paintings, along with a nostalgic and almost reverent feeling for the early, frail, planes. There is lyricism in his treatment of the atmosphere in which they glide, but it is firmly controlled by the plastic quality of the works as a whole.

––Emily Wasserman

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