A closing look should be reserved for an obvious superlative in any Small Sculpture Triennial: its smallest works….It doesn ́t always have to be the biennial format.The added value of concentration is amply illustrated by Armin Hartenstein ́s series „Mes Amis de Emmanuel Bove“, named after the novel Mes Amis by Emmanuel Bove (1898-1945). The formal coherence of the individual works results from the formal contradictions and fragmented materials, the disruption of perspective, and the shattering of form. Whosoever immerses himself in the smallest of these fantastic miniature landscapes will recognise at its centre the section of a black and white photograph which provides the scale. The format forces onLARGER THAN e to look more closely, it promotes physical proximity: the landscape right before your very eyes is as close as it is distant.“It ́s just how you want to view it in terms of your scale sense“.
Georg Imdahl: The Power of Reduction excerpt from the catalogue: LARGER THAN LIFE – STRANGER THAN FICTION , 11.Triennale Kleinplastik Fellbach
…The reduction in the representation of things make the viewer seem to be larger, at times almost gigantic-…Armin Hartenstein ́s imaginative mountain ranges and rock faces absorb the thoughts of the viewer. Here too, it is precisely the diminuitiveness and the finely painted appearnace of the fir trees and lakes that render the surrounding landscapes all the more monumental in the imagination of the viewer. In their closed format, they are more concentrated in an insular way, yet they have a special effect in conjunction with their rough aspects, rather like fragments of thoughts that appear close and distant, or real and unreal at the same time. To immerse oneself in the dephts of such miniature mountain landscapes, which has sprung from the imagination of the artist, means to react compliantly, as a dreamer, to the things one has seen.
Heike van den Valentyn: The Truth of a Story is only ever what the Listener is prepared to believe
Heike van den Valentyn: „Im Urgrund“ – At the Source
When I woke up the sun-square had already passed my bed and trembled on the wall – Victor Bâton, the protagonist and first person narrator of Emanuel Bove’s novel Mes Amis startles, when he wakes up late in the morning. Bove’s narrative takes place in Paris in the 1920s. The young war invalid lives near the Seine in a moist room underneath the roof. From here he roams through the alleys and cafés in search of his friend. The desire seems just as banal as it seems existential. Under Emanuel Bove’s eyes it grows into an obsession that repeats day to day, week to week, month to month in similarly recurring patterns. Bâton’s yearning forays start in dreamful idealized visions and lead precipitously to nightly disappointment. His feelings remain unreciprocated. Victor returns lonely to his attic.
A house made from sugar and epoxy resin, crystalline effloresced, stands with its translucent walls and slants in the midst of the exhibition Bove Expat.
The room is sculpture and reminiscence at the same time. Its shape depicts, at a reduced scale, the exhibition space Bove, which Armin Hartenstein opened for friends and those who were interested. A light flooded shell of remembered reality of the visited, and worked-on space, that had over the years, as a site of cooperation, experienced interventions and transformations: Numerous artists have, following Armin Hartenstein’s invitation written themselves into the site with their music, their friends and their visitors. Christoph Korn, Pjotre Zamojsky, Christine Moldrickx, Bea Otto & Julia Kröpelin, Locust Jones, Stefan Lux, Rosilene Ludovico, Ralf Werner, Katharina Jahnke, Thyra Schmidt, Jan Kämmerling, Swen Buckner, Felix Schramm and lastly Alice Könitz have altered the architecture sculpture in the studio underneath the roof.
3/4 Bove is the title of the house, now a mobile residence, nucleus and germ cell of an artistic practice, the beginning of which Armin Hartenstein locates in a remembered dream: a red book with the lettering Mes Amis de Emanuel Bove.
At first the initial dream experience works its way through smallest surrealist pictorial objects, islands made from wood, topographical fragments of internal landscapes, which form over a period of twelve years into a series of painterly miniatures. Mes Amis de Emanuel Bove are suddenly appearing solitaires, findings wrangling attention from nowhere on a monumental scale, buffeted by water, or in fragments with shards of plastic, pergamin and postcard.
Armin Hartenstein’s body of work finds in the visionary images of the dutchman Hercules Segers (Haarlem 1590 – 1638 Amsterdam) a precursor whose experimental graphic art already exerted a great influence on his artist colleagues in the golden age. With massive rock formations formed through overlapping motifs of recycled copperplates, Segers created enormous landscapes on minuscule space.
But there are also memories of magical, inexplicable landscape phenomena of his childhood that shape Armin Hartenstein’s work. A temporarily disappearing lake, dark rocks, dangerous karst holes shaped his forays through the near surroundings which he experienced as fascinating and as threatening. This puzzle of places and memories, which associatively and involuntarily generate new meaning appears already in the early stages of Armin Hartenstein’s work. As of late he shows it too, the Wiesentalkiste made in 1992, a box out of individual, colorfully framed wood formations, reminiscent of slippery mountain ridges.
Very small, in midst of crushing ridges is a lost, gray house.
This additive principle of the Wiesentalkiste and its individual, removable elements is important for Bove too, as much for the progressive series Mes Amis de Emanuel Bove (ongoing since 2005) as well as in the exhibition Bove Expat. Derived from latin ex and patria, ‘out of’ and ‘fatherland’ Expat is a short form for the English term Expatriate, a person who is sent away to a foreign country by their employer for a period of time.
In the moment of departure, of relocation, Armin Hartenstein seizes on a current, actual biographical event. With the exhibition Bove Expat he bids farewell to Düsseldorf, the setting that was home to Bove in the past five years. The house-like sculpture 3/4 Bove is as much the imaginary center of Armin Hartenstein’s artistic practice, as it is a pictorial recollection of an ice surface from his childhood, through which he perceived reality in a hazy and acoustically removed way.
Bove stands in Armin Hartenstein’s extensive body of works for a network of collaborations with friends or esteemed artists as well as for journeys into an inner, recollected or literary reality. The crystalline house whose sugary consistency, which in your imagination melts sweetly on your tongue, is moulded reality, mold and seed for future work formations.The comfort of the spatial, architectural Bove-sculpture as a counterpart to the island-like isolated soulscapes now ties everything together. In the pictorial objects as well as in the house made from sugar, the human individual is not to be imagined, it is already written into each single piece in the form of a specific mood.