John Hartman - American Landscapes

  • Exhibition: March 16 - April 17, 2020
  • Reception and Talk: March 19 @ 6pm
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John Hartman painting


Artist Statement

When I was young, I had dreams that I was flying over familiar places, which would unfold below me in the dream as a continuous oblique angle view, as if I was a few hundred feet above the landscape. Much of my painting career has been devoted to re-capturing the sense of wonder that these dreams gave me. Hence the aerial views that dominate my paintings. Sometimes these are based on airplane trips I make in small planes, sometimes on drone photographs I make, but most often they are made by becoming so familiar with a place that I can imagine what it might look like from three or four hundred feet in the air.

As I paint these landscapes I am aware of my past experiences in each place and of the history of others as well. So, I often include visual references to people and their stories when I paint a landscape. These are aerial views of San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles. New Orleans and the Delta communities south of New Orleans. There are also two aerial views of the landscape where I grew up, Port Severn, Canada. These two landscapes are peopled with memories.

The selection of cities is serendipitous. I was in each place, I became intrigued, I sketched what I saw. My continuing curiosity lead to more visits and more sketching and the paintings came from this process. Up close these places are visceral, there is noise, smells and a lot to look at.
Seen from above this visceral quality is gone and it is the play of light on the landscape and the compositional possibilities created by land and water that are most apparent. I try to get some of the up close visceral feeling and some of the feeling of lightness from flying into each painting.

Updated: May 30, 2023