E C K A R T H A H N
Hart wie Schein
September 16 – November 4, 2023
Tue – Sat, 11am – 6pm
As part of Berlin Art Week, Crone Berlin presents the exhibition Hart wie Schein by German artist Eckart Hahn, who has devoted himself to three things in his oeuvre: painting, hyperrealism, and making nonsense of an increasingly senseless world.
Eckhart Hahn’s paintings amaze the viewer from the first moment with their meticulous, highly precise painting technique. His brushstrokes seem to effortlessly take on old master artistry and painterly virtue, but the motifs immediately reveal that we are in the here and now. Dreamlike, unreal human-animal figures play tricks, colorful plumage forms into soldiers’ helmets, black holes open up in desolate landscapes, cheeky peepers peek out from under lifted women’s skirts, and mighty creatures turn out to be wooden backdrops.
The motifs of Hahn’s painting leave it open whether symbolism is hidden in them or not. One can always interpret them in a symbolic way, but also differently. One can see one thing in them, but also the exact opposite. The only thing that is certain is that Hahn shows us a world in which nothing seems to be as it is, but everything is as it appears. Our existence in the new millennium is staged as an absurd world theater, as a single chimera that has become our harsh reality.
Eckart Hahn finds the starting point of his painting in the digital world. He addresses the sensual and haptic capacities of our perception by translating the visual language of virtual, media-based realities into hyperrealistic paintings. In doing so, he questions post-factual uncertainties and makes the surreal and paradoxical tangible. He often draws his themes from current discourses: species extinction, consumerism, mysticism, conspiracy, religion, climate change – Hahn's images play with the surface with a wink, but provide a deep insight.
Again and again, the artist walks in two seemingly different worlds: a real one, in which one believes one can recognize figures and objects, and a transcendental one, which raises questions of veracity. It remains open where he feels more comfortable and what he recommends as a refuge: the crystal-clear realism we see on the surface, or the mystical, absurd, humorous fantasies that open up behind it.
Without a doubt, however, Hahn’s works can be read as a swan song to a technological future. Sometimes they promise devilishly beautiful horror scenarios, as in their depiction of dark craters entwined with ropes, engulfing twitching fish and distraught gorillas. Sometimes they point to hopeful science fiction visions in which nature and wildlife take command, a bit like the cunning primates in the Hollywood perennial Planet of the Apes, which sees the salvation of the world only in the most brutally possible romanticization of a merciless “back to the roots.”
Eckart Hahn was born in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1971. He studied photography, art history, and graphics in Stuttgart and Tübingen before turning exclusively to painting in 1998. His work has been shown in numerous international solo and group exhibitions, including in New York, Berlin, Munich, Milan, Madrid, and Paris. Hart wie Schein is Eckart Hahn’s first solo exhibition at Crone Berlin, and indeed his first show in Berlin ever.