Not There, Not Here presents twenty-two abstract paintings by Hartmut Austen that often evoke either interior spaces or landscapes in distress. Created over the past decade, the paintings aim to visualize the transient nature of place.
In Stage, Aleppo, Two Prisons, and Harbor, Austen appropriates and responds visually to photographic imagery of current events and places that have shaped public discourse, prompting viewers to reflect on the nature of their subjective connection to these events.
The finished images often emerge from the artist’s prolonged process of painting and overpainting that eventually results in an abstract composition of form and color. Austen attempts to strike a balance between personal reflection while simultaneously commenting on the practice and history of painting itself.
The installation on three levels in the McMullen atrium is site-specific, evolving throughout the day as a result of changing daylight streaming through the windows. Shadows interact with the paintings, surrounding walls, and floors and produce variations in color, which viewers experience from different vantage points as they ascend or descend the staircase. At the same time, through the windows visitors glimpse shifting views of the panorama outside, inviting them to ponder connections among the painted images, the natural world, and themselves.
Assistant Professor of Painting at Boston College, Hartmut Austen studied painting and drawing with H. J. Diehl at Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Since his arrival in the United States in 1998, he has exhibited widely in this country as well as Germany and is one of seven artists in the Telegraph Art Collective. Produced in various US cities, the paintings in Not There, Not Here comprise Austen’s first solo exhibition in New England. A booklet with a contribution by San Francisco-based artist Jordan Kantor and an audio guide accompany the exhibition.