About the Paintings


Essay about a Paint-work - Approaches to Frank Hahn's Pictures

Dr. Hildegard Krämer, September 1998




Anyone visiting an exhibition with Frank Hahn's paintings for the first time will be especially fascinated by the overwhelming effect of colours. Large areas of a truly "indescribable" green, bright blue, a summer-hot yellow, warm brown and ochre tones, a shimmering grey, a strange dark violet . . .As Frank Hahn puts it, the landscapes you see in the paintings are shaping the colours - not vice versa. Thus, the colours seem to be the true subject of these paintings.

And if you compare Frank Hahn's postcards or art prints with his originals, you will notice an amazing difference: the photos, the art prints - in spite of being of expert quality - cannot convey the true nature of the original paintings. The vivid colours, the "incredible" brightness that brings a singular magic to the rooms where Frank Hahn's pictures are shown.

Interestingly, Frank Hahn likes to associate his paintings with elements from the sphere of musical terminology. He refers to his works as "Colour-compositions" and this is not only meant in a creative but also in a musical sense. Most of his works are defined by a "chord" of two or three colours forming the basic mood of the painting. By limiting the number of colours, the paintings have an intensive colour effect but never look multicoloured.

The colours, their different shades, the nuances of one basic "chord" of colour are shown to advantage within spacious areas and these areas are then composed into those impressive colour bodies characterizing Hahn's picture world. His " colour-chord"-compositions are the result of a technique which has been constantly refined in recent years. They are result of thorough, well-considered work in his studio.(...)

The far largest part of Hahn's works shows representational naturalistic landscapes. Forming colours by means of landscapes and not by other possible shapes, Frank Hahn shows clearly that the meaning of his paintings is not limited to mere colour compositions.

Each of Frank Hahn's paintings shows on the one hand an almost palpable love of painting, of forming colours - and on the other hand - perhaps the deeper and more original meaning - it testifies a heartfelt love of nature. In a very early comment on his paintings Frank Hahn said: "I try to capture the oases I see, oases in a world that is already destroyed and disintegrated to a great extent. ... I want to absorb and interprete the quiet and soothing beauty of landscapes."




The river "Sieg" Flooding the banks


June 1999



"The river Sieg flooding the banks" - a painful experience for people, having to suffer from the consequences.

But for me as a painter, the evolved overflowed scenery provides charming tasks. The continual change in the relation of land to water always opens new perspectives and themes to me. If you reach the same place two hours later on or even the next day, the scenery will have changed completely. Views, you are used to look at, are losing themselves in the rising floods or raising after several days. New islands and spits of land have arisen, areas of water appear here and there in unexpected places. The waves of previously unknown seas are splashing against new shores.

And if, at the same time, the evening sun glitters in the floods - these are moments in experiencing nature meaning really much to me and I am grateful to be allowed to see them.

There are no limits to the variety of flooded sceneries. I tried to paint a small part of it.


Frank Hahn



Islandgreen and "Bodden"-blue

Landscapes on the German islands "Rügen" and "Hiddensee" (Baltic Sea) in the "Gustav-Heinemann"-house, Bonn 1999

Do you love the vastness of Germany's scenery in the north? The freshness of its green, the blue of its "Bodden"-lakes and the colour of northern skies?

You'll find plenty of it on Rügen and Hiddensee! Frank Hahn put the special togetherness of land and water into the form of scenic landscapes in his very own way.

His paintings invite to dive in a silence and expanse, into a calmness only nature can give and which makes man pause and find himself.

"Each of Frank Hahn's paintings shows on the one hand an almost palpable love of painting, of forming colours - and on the other hand - perhaps the deeper and more original meaning - it testifies a heartfelt love of nature." (Dr.H.Krämer)

Frank Hahn uses water-colour, oil and acrylic colour. He paints on japanese paper and cardboard, fibreboard and plywood.




"Paintings from the Banks of the Sieg" – in aquarelle, acrylic and oil




Exhibition at the Dresdner Bank, Sankt Augustin 1991



Dr. Eberhard Caspary


Born in Toronto in 1952, Frank Hahn has lived for many years in the Rhein-Sieg area. Experimenting with colours has fascinated him since his school days when he used to paint with water colours on coloured blotting paper. Courses in philosophy, pedagogy and mathematics did not succeed in keeping him from art college. Following a successful exhibition of animals and landscapes in 1984, Frank Hahn began to regard painting as an essential aspect of his life.

Frank Hahn favours motifs that really exist. He calls this exhibition "Paintings from the Banks of the Sieg". Since he lives in Sankt Augustin he is physically close to this favourite motif. The wide plains of the lower Sieg before it flows into the Rhine are home ground. What fascinates him are the frequent changes in the scenery as a result of the rising or falling water level and the lakes it creates. Meadows and trees, water and paths, houses and pylons are the elements which go into forming the scenery of the banks of the Sieg in aquarelle and acrylic. There are no people in the scenes, but the structures bear the print of human activity.

However, Frank Hahn is not a painter of typical landscapes. One will search in vain for the photographic exactitude of the scenes represented: he often modifies a motif in favour of the forms and the colours. The atmosphere of the painting is what matters to him. Sketches made on location only form a framework. It is often much later in the studio that he decides how the painting is to become. He decides on the material to be used – Japanese paper, grey cardboard, plywood or canvas – and on the type of paint – aquarelle or acrylic, sometimes oil – and of course the colours.

The colours are the decisive feature of Frank Hahn’s works. Landscapes are used to shape colours and not vice versa. This is reflected in the titles of some of his works: "River scene in greyish-pink and green", "High water in violet", "River scene in English red and blue", etc. In most cases a "chord" of two or three colours is created in the studio. Related complementary contrasts form the basic structure of most of the "chords" of colour. Green is not combined with its exact complement which is red, but with violet and orange, both of which contain red; an indigo blue is not combined with orange, its complementary colour, but with an English red, which has only a tinge of orange, and so on. This restriction renders Frank Hahn’s paintings very intensive in terms of colour, yet never brightly coloured.

The borders within the paintings are another unique feature of Frank Hahn’s works. The contours emphasise the colour effects of the various areas. But the poster nature of this artistic technique is tempered by the softness, the blurring of the borders. The depth effect of the paintings is achieved by perspective lines, uneven shades of colour resulting from the choice of material and the method of painting, and the allocation of foreground, centre and background by the elements composing the scene. The portrayal of the water surfaces plays a major role in this respect.

Frank Hahn’s paintings from the banks of the Sieg breathe an air of tranquillity, contemplation, harmony. They reflect the artist’s personality, his own inner feelings that radiate to those who look at the paintings.




Exhibition in the Press Club in Bonn


(Joint exhibition with Franz Corvey)



Hans Ulrich Spree, February 1992


Frank Hahn began to paint during the course of his studies of mathematics, philosophy and pedagogy. What has become characteristic of his paintings is the discovery of landscapes with their wealth of forms, and also cultivated landscapes bearing the stamp of human activity, perhaps even spoilt by human activity. Frank Hahn captures in his paintings what he sees and what he wants others to see, but without the people who have caused the motif. In most cases the motif is first captured only in a drawing, while the painting created in the studio reproduces this motif only to a certain extent or shows it from a different aspect. As Frank Hahn puts it, these are landscape paintings, but not landscapes that can be locally identified: it is not his ambition to paint local scenes. What he aims to capture is the essence, the general nature of a landscape and this is reflected in the way in which he uses colours and painting techniques. I would like to point out just one aspect of these techniques: the emphasis of areas and the effects of colours within them – each colour should prevail in its area, the colours rarely merge into one another. Another aspect: the gentle borders between the colour areas in the aquarelles on cardboard and in the paintings in acrylic sometimes create an impression of something out-of-focus. But this is precisely the intended effect: the colours appear to be "floating".




Exhibition in the New Town Hall in Goettingen




Parijato, 1987





What do we see in the paintings? "Aquarelles on Japanese paper and cardboard". The soberness of the title of this exhibition is a complete contradiction of the painting shown on the posters inviting us to it: we are looking at meadows, in the foreground three bare trees whose trunks are reflected in pools of water. Behind these is a dull green meadow dotted with clumps of trees, merging in the distance into the light grey sky. A deep sense of peace emanates from the painting – a painting that lures us to float away in a dream.

Frank Hahn likes open spaces. In addition to a number of impressions from the lowlands of the Sieg, we find paintings from the coast of North Friesland, as if they belonged together. The theme is The Halligen: ("Misty day on Hallig Hooge", "Flooding – yellowish-green", "Evening on Hallig Langeness" and many more); aquarelles with emphasis on the sky, for example "Dark clouds" or "Violet – red – green". But we also find these open spaces in the paintings of the "Pleiser country", the hinterland of the Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains) near Bonn. We have before us gentle slopes of the Central Uplands with the horizon far away in the distance.

All of the landscapes bear the simple mark of human activity: fields, meadows with a footbridge, a house, fruit trees. Aquarelles on Japanese paper and cardboard? Apart from a few exceptions (a painting in acrylics, a few wood-engravings and two or three paintings on aquarelle paper) the paintings are approximately equally divided between Japanese paper and cardboard. It is not possible to achieve clearly limited areas of colour using the Japanese paper chosen here. Depending on the amount of water in the paint, it creates bizarre borders in the as yet dry surroundings. The structure of this paper makes corrections virtually impossible. Removing paint while still wet (which is no problem when using aquarelle paper) is hardly possible with Japanese paper because it is so easily damaged when wet. In contrast to the paintings on Japanese paper, the paintings on cardboard do not appear to be typical of aquarelles. Yet here, too, the aquarelle paints have been applied layer by layer to the dried material. Aquarelle paints are used because of their glazing effect. Thus if the choice of paint used determines the allocation to a painting technique, then these are "aquarelles" in spite of the unusual material being painted on. Simple forms dominate the style of painting, with no tendency to detail. Sweeping lines and round forms prevail over corners and sharp edges. Few graphical elements structure the areas within the painting. Each area features a single colour, usually with little variation in shade. Two or three colour values create the basic atmosphere of each painting. Nevertheless the paintings reflect completely differing moods: the cold light of a winter afternoon, the warmth of a brownish-yellow summer evening in the country, the freshness in the air of the coming spring, a windy day, a stormy sky, a sunny day with blue skies.





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