Artist Spotlight: MICHAEL BARTMANN I begin by exploring an inspirational location and visit many times before starting. I am drawn to non-designed, left-over places. When I was young, I spent a greater amount of time playing in and exploring the vacant lots rather than the professionally designed playgrounds. As an artist, I am still drawn to those abandoned, derelict spaces where the imagination is free to roam. It’s the lack of obvious beauty and not knowing where these spaces will lead me artistically that draws me to them. After visiting several times I paint on-site and explore the site through the lens of a camera. I also research the history of the site and look for any old photographs. I do all of this “getting to know the site” to allow a more personal artistic vision to develop rather than just capturing its essence.
After getting to know the site, I then move the ideas into the studio to further remove myself from its innate meaning. I like the idea of the painting being “site-specific”, but I want it to evolve into something more personal with a new “sense of place.” In the studio, my process starts with a drafted line drawing in which a new place is constructed- much the same way that an architect would create. However, many times the drawing is a combination of several different places and possibilities overlaying and overlapping each other that will be further explored, changed, or decided during the painting process. The drawing creates the underlying structure. This underlying drawing eventually gives way to the paint. I am more of a searcher with paint. Often the paint is doing one thing and the drawing doing another with a precarious connection between the two. I enjoy this tension. I paint as much for paint’s sake instead of just the image. There is a fine line between the love of paint, the material itself, the mark-making versus the definition of the image. My painting process involves scraping, staining, dragging, and a re-invention of the space. A new space evolves from the process. My paintings are as much about the architecture of the paint as it is about an architectural scene.
I want the entire process to show through in the final painting. The residue of the previous drawing/painting comes through in the final version.
The painting titled Passages has a “sense of place” inspired by an actual location which then evolves through ideas that come from multiple sources, real and imagined as well as through the process of painting. This process is a dynamic interaction with the surface, the space, the layering, and taking away of paint.
Tension exists between the use of a traditional one-point perspective, the flat abstract two-dimensional canvas world, and the surface world of paint.
Like many artists, I use light to turn the ordinary and everyday into something more, something greater.
I evoke an emotion using spatial dimension, atmosphere, and defining architecture. There are many paintings within the painting. Typically there is not just one straightforward view, but many spatial directions and abstractions of space to move through. I am interested more in a journey through the space and paint than a particular fixed image. I create a space that the viewer is free to roam around in. There are no figures in the paintings because I want the figures in the paintings to be the viewer.