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hahnkultur

Andreas Hahn: Künstler / Artist

la vida es bella



Appraisal: Buchard

Christian Buchard, Art Historian, FU Munich

Colour as a Messenger of Freedom

Colours are not only an opening to the outside world through the sense of sight, but also one of the primal ways for human beings to project their own experiences into the outside world. In the evolution of humankind, colour and the perception of colour is a very late development and is only slightly developed by comparison to the perception of light and dark. There are about 120 million receptors on the retina for black and white vision and only about 6 million receptors for colour vision. Furthermore, the nerve formations for light-dark vision, the so-called rods, are many times more sensitive than the sensory nerves for colour vision, the so-called cones. For human beings, who mainly explore their surroundings with the sense of sight, colour perception significantly improves the recognition and recall of what they see. However, it is a special feature of colour vision that the physiological process is overlaid by psychological factors. Mental moods change colour perception. Colours are a key to the subjective.

Andreas Hahn, in his works and installations, uses a colour language that unfolds its effect with grand gestures and strong contrasts and, on a second metaphorical level, explores the emotional potential of the medium. It is the Dionysian, expressionistic magic of colour that puts the life-affirming luminosity of saturated hues into the picture. In his series of works, Andreas Hahn consistently traces the form-breaking power of colour. The mural becomes a three-dimensional body of colour that stands out from the wall with 5 painted surfaces. Hahn combines several segments into polygonal colour prisms that break away from the convention of the rectangular picture, like the electively related works of the American colour field painters. A special feature are the wedge paintings, works made of wedge-shaped segments that exert a strict geometric spatial effect that counteracts the soft colour gradients. The formal division of the paintings is also subordinate to the primacy of colour. Without light and shadow, but only through colour contrasts, colour spaces of suggestive depth are created. The individual colour fields often form spectral colour rows from yellow to red tones, from blue to violet tones. The layering of contrasts supports the experimentation with spatial effects. The striking play with primary colours and the systematic arrangement of brightness levels and degrees of saturation structure the psychedelic colour magic and give them a special charm. They potentiate colour perception, because in everyday life people perceive only about 128 colour tones. Only through a combination of factors: hue, brightness and saturation does a spectrum of perception of almost 200,000 colours emerge.

After Hahn had already discovered his three-dimensional coloured sculptures for the interior, it was only a step to his fully sculptured colour objects for the exterior. In his projects with paintings on stands in public spaces, for the first time in Überlingen in 1996, Hahn entered new territory in terms of art history by moving the panel paintings from their traditional place on a wall in the interior of a building to the urban outdoors, or even more radically, by setting them up in nature, for example in a park. He developed a special weatherproof technique for these ‘picture sculptures’. It is quite extraordinary to discover Hahn’s paintings in summer on a green meadow under a tree: a provocative contrast, because the colours of nature seem rather dimmed in this immediate comparison, despite the sunshine. The intensity of the colours in Andreas Hahn’s paintings is reminiscent of the colours of blossoms and fruit, but even more so of the colours that appear not in organic nature but in cosmic plays of light, or in the glow of ores and in lava flows. For five years, Andreas Hahn has lived on the volcanic island of La Palma, where such natural colour experiences are a possibility.

This is where the work cycle La carcel abierta (2003-2005) and EI mensaje de los colores (2007-2008) were created. Literally his prison gates were opened with the message of colour. In these series of works, colourfulness creates an allegorical space as a vehicle of expression for the longing for freedom and spirituality. Only the intensity of this desire for a transcendent freedom makes the human being aware of the limitations imposed by society and by the physical body, to the point where the present moment is painfully experienced as a prison. Andreas Hahn’s colour works, detached from concreteness and graphic elements, are messengers of this freedom, a freedom based on the autonomy of the individual and the autonomy of art.

Christian Burchard, Art Historian, lecturer in Aesthetics and Gestalt Psychology, FH Munich.

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