John Hartman lives and works in Penetanguishene, Ontario.
The art historical context for Hartman’s work can be traced to the Canadian tradition of Group of Seven landscape, the late celestial paintings of David Milne and European art movements, notably German Expressionism. In the 1980’s, with the emergence of Neo-Expressionism, Hartman found affirmation for his desire to make paintings that used figuration in a narrative way. He began to make paintings about human history, as well as, the land where it took place.
Hartman seeks to paint a landscape that is ravishing and pitiless, indifferent to the human condition and not in any way an analogue of perfect nature. Usually, he places human context in the sky, separating it from the land, and underscoring our impermanence. Hartman forces elements of the natural world into his compositional structure. The act of forcing packs the picture with a kind of furious energy. The accidents of this energy enhance and excite the work. Surfaces of thick impasto and brilliant colour record the artist’s rapturous attack. John Hartman’s dynamic paintings redefine our perceptions of landscape. Broad and seeping, detailed and intense, his canvases celebrate our physical and psychological connectedness to our environment.