by Jim Hartsen
Jim’s exhibition is a dazzling tour de force of brilliant, spellbinding images, that have a spectacular rhythm of lines, shapes, forms, textures and values, together with extraordinary saturated colors, giving an organic coalition of every visual element possible. These exceptional prints are not emotionally neutral, the result of the complete absence of constricted awareness, freedom from a sense of self, and the reawakening of a creative and intuitive ability that has enhanced the author’s visionary skills. Here, I am reminded of a quote from Diane Arbus, namely, “My favorite is to go where I’ve never been,” a saying that is exemplified by these stellar images, and making my selection of just two of them to comment further on, very difficult, for they are all memorable.
I hope that every observer who has the good fortune to view Jim’s prints, will be cognizant of the fact that it is not what you look at, but what you see that is so important. In H1041 there is a regeneration of a sense of wonder, that meaningful art is both mind changing and challenges the prejudices of conventional thought. The color palette is expressively awesome, with an exceptional range of deep, saturated hues, that totally integrate with all of the other visual features. I am very aware of that I am looking through a stylistic network of perhaps a cracked paint surface that is outlined in black to form powerful interstices, through which there is a metal mesh covering , that reveals extraordinary fine texture and surface detail. The center of these grids have been peeled away to reveal the secrets beyond. Against the background of a dark dome that is silhouetted against the deep blue sky, one is keenly aware of a highlighted, irregularly shaped water expanse. In the latter are ghostly reflections of a city’s skyline, where skyscrapers that once towered above the landscape, are now reduced to irregular fingers of dripping paint. If that were not enough, there is spectacularly present a halo of fiery red, reminiscent of a sea of hot flowing magma, issuing from a volcanic caldera. I hope that other observers can add their own interpretations as to what they see in this truly creative and compelling image. (#H1041).
Peter A. Marr