The sun had not yet risen. The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it. Gradually, as the sky whitened a dark line lay on the horizon dividing the sea from the sky and the grey cloth became barred with thick strokes moving, one after another, beneath the surface, following each other, pursuing each other, perpetually.
—Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Blum & Poe is pleased to present Nightswimming, London-based artist Christopher Hartmann’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Hartmann’s paintings portray situations that are seemingly detached from specific time and space. These settings often imply physical interaction or dialogue but are imbued with conflicting moods of intimacy and alienation, the indistinct yet persistent feelings of unease latent to our oversaturated media landscape, and technology-mediated social connections. The construction of the painting itself mimics the layering processes of photo-editing software, with the built-up application of artificial color tones recalling the alienating luminosity of digital screens.
This exhibition focuses on Hartmann’s interest in abstraction, beginning with a series of beds that appear to have just been left. These works evoke the vulnerability of sleep, the ambiguities of dream states, and the intimacy of physical relationships. Loaded with a heightened sense of emotion and reality, they inhabit a liminal space between fact and fiction, the reality of the present and memory of the past. The bed paintings are presented in dialogue with two seascapes. The myriad folds in the bedsheets mirror in the infinite ripples on the water’s surface, intimating different states of immersion—the consciousness suspended during sleep and the body suspended in water.
The sense of absence conjured by the works in the first gallery gives way to the gradual introduction of a bodily presence in further paintings that alternately explore intimacy and isolation. One depicts two pairs of legs aligned within the rippling folds of white sheets. Another two show figures lying alone, their body language alternately inviting and more guarded. Subtly larger than life yet intimate and relatable, the looming perspectives of these compositions implicate the viewer as more than a merely detached observer. The final body of work on view presents close-ups of entwined hands, concluding the exhibition with gentle moments of touch bathed in natural light.
Christopher Hartmann (b. 1993, Germany) is a German-Costa Rican artist living and working in London. He holds an MA in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins, London, UK and completed his MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK in 2021. He is a recent grantee from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation (2020) and resident of The Fores Project, London, UK (2020) and Nassima Landau Foundation, Tel Aviv, Israel (2022). Solo exhibitions of Hartmann’s work include State of Life, May I Live, May I Love, T&Y Projects, Tokyo, Japan (2022) and What I Want to Say Is This, Nassima Landau Foundation, Tel Aviv, Israel (2021). Selected group exhibitions include Queering the Narrative, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, Germany (2022); MFA Fine Art Degree Show, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK (2021); High Voltage, Nassima Landau, Tel Aviv, Israel (2020); and London Grads Now, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK (2020).