Klaus Hartmanns exhibition 'Somewhere between Kapiri Mposhi and Dar es Salaam'

Travelling by land, who hasn't been lulled by the landscapes swooshing by letting the mind get blurry becoming one with your imagination. It's this sentiment of passing landscapes whilst in a vehicle that Klaus Hartmann captures so well in his exhibition 'Somewhere between Kapiri Mposhi and Dar es Salaam', that debuted on the 26th of March at Nafasi Artspace in Dar es Salaam. A resident of Germany, Klaus was in Tanzania as part of a residency program offered by Nafasi, which hosted him for seven weeks. This arts residency program inviting international artists to interact at Nafasi (an arts hub hosting several local fine artists' studios and a fine arts academy) has been running since 2010.

"My first time in Tanzania was in 1992, I came to visit my sister who was working at Muhimbili Hospital. I have a long standing connection with Tanzania." Klaus answers on why he chose to work in Dar, it turns out his childhood in Germany had him meeting a few Tanzanians that left a good impression on him; they had come to visit his church where his father was a preacher. Thereafter his decision to visit his sister was easy. In fact he came back again on his own in 2011 and 2013 to teach at the TaSUBa College of Arts in Bagamoyo.

At this exhibition in the carefully designed ship container that is part of the gallery space of Nafasi were drawings in A4 size on paper lining the walls, titled after the exhibition 'Somewhere between Kapiri Mposhi and Dar es Salaam #1, #2, #3 and so on'. These sketches are landscapes depicting single buildings mostly old some in their later stages of decay. It's the way they are presented that oozes an unexpected reverence. Derived from the attention to detail Klaus gave them, stemming from the color choices the perfect proportions and seasoned texture. I as well think placing these buildings, that otherwise in real life would cause a passerby no second glance. As single points of focus add to this reverence as they've become history, living documents of human footprints.

"The initial idea was to do some drawings and document some footage from the trip but during my time in the train my plan changed a little bit as there's so much life in the TAZARA..." Klaus shares of the inspiration behind this exhibition. Last year he was in Zambia for another residency where which he took a trip on the TAZARA train from Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam. He was very glad to get a chance to come back in Africa and complete the drawings from that trip. As he shares it's easier to capture the exact color tones and other minute details than if he did them in a studio in Germany. It follows the works of this exhibition are all inspired by the footage he took of the landscapes he saw while on that train ride.

Apart from the drawings this exhibition as well showcased a few realist/impressionist paintings that really display the skill of this artist. My favorite includes the only one with a red border. Highlighting a redbrick bungalow of modest means underneath the most beautiful star studded sky, its contrasts, texture, the sheer soul reaching beyond the canvas of this painting is just serene. Looking at the other paintings by Klaus here, I was impressed by detail and proportion, the way he strikes a careful balance between realist and impressionist.

Speaking with the director of Nafasi I learned that Klaus in his time at the arts hub got to cater to a weekly mentoring program for the fine art students at Nafasi Academy. "We've had three sets of resident artists this year, a duo from Switzerland & Berlin, a duo from the USA and now Klaus from Berlin and next time we will have an artist from Kinshasa...Klaus for instance did a weekly mentoring program with the students which was really lovely." Rebecca Corey went on to share how this residency program exposes local artists with experiences of international artists allowing for stronger networks and a sharing of skills.

None of the paintings at this exhibition, going on till the 9th of April sponsored by the Goethe Institut in collaboration with Nafasi, are currently for sale. However Klaus looks to showcase them with other pieces at a gallery in Hamburg in May or June this year, where audiences can purchase his works. For more info visit his website https://www.klaushartmann.eu/

Carol Anande
Wednesday, 4 May 2022

N.B. this article written in a short version by Caroline Uliwa was first published in the East African newspaper, The exhibition took place at Nafasi Art Space in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania