Henri Haake

Colorful Figure Paintings Reflecting On the In-Between

Works Bio
Henri Haake in his studio, colorful figure paintings

Henri Haake’s serene, colourful figure paintings are pictures of the in-between: they oscillate between reality and appearance, atmospheric and tangible, dream and day, cheerfulness and melancholy, space and surface. Significantly, the beach – that unstable area between the ever-changing water and firm ground, filled with hazy light – is a common motif.


In particular, the in-between signifies the relationships of the characters, be they playful or meaningful, obscured or open – or strikingly absent. The few clear positions, such as the punchy boxer on the one hand and the lascivious woman on the other, can only underline the ambivalence on all sides. And they add that touch of irony that makes these pictures so appealing.

The obviously used, but in detail not fully painted double bed in a closed hotel room – Begoro – is an example of the many stories that are hinted at in these pictures, but not told. The window curtain, filled with a colorful pattern, is more eventful than the empty bed.

Henri Haake in his Kreuzberg studio

Motifs in figure paintings

The young artist is a globetrotter, he finds his motifs around the world, on the beaches of Africa, in the bars of Cuba and the streets of New York – or in the local Kreuzberg. With a keen, watchful eye he discovers the typical, the cliché: Be it the poses of the boxers, footballers or billiard players, the casual attitude of the beach boy or the streetwise Weird Guy – poses that remind us of the figure studies of classical art. But the artist also describes aptly the special atmosphere on the footballers’ beach of Rio de Janeiro, where the glassy-dense light mixes with the grainy texture of the sand.

poses and attitudes

The forms and positions of the figures are of particular importance. On the one hand it is about the way they pose, present themselves; on the other hand, it concerns their emotional state of mind. Do they stand alone or with others, do they look into themselves or are they in conversation? Often, the characters also remain isolated within a group, particularly striking in the football scenes: Despite the commonality of the game, each one of the young men stands for himself.

A studio corner (photo: the artist)


The in-between also applies to the specific coloring. Henri Haake uses hardly any primary colors; as a rule, the tones are mixed, earthy, like weathered. Whereas in earlier phases of the work the colors flowed into each other with powerful brushstrokes, they are now clearly demarcated as monochrome fields. In this way, they get an intrinsic value independent fom the object they signify, and create an almost constructivist color field painting.


It should come as no surprise that a young artist of the 21st century not only takes inspiration from art history, but also from films. Henri Haake names in particular the innovative, socio-critical and relationship-dramatic works of Godard,  Bergman and Fassbinder as well as Fellini’s “La dolce vita”. However, one also thinks of Fellini’s “Ship of Dreams” or Visconti’s “Death in Venice”, and of Stanley Kubrick: the shifting between reality and fantasy in “2001 – A Space Odyssey” or the shimmering candlelight in “Barry Lyndon”. “Don’t you think women have something magical?” This question by Jean-Pierre Léaud in François Truffaut’s “La nuit américaine” can be seamlessly transferred to the paintings of Henri Haake: they too have something magical about them.

Please view the artist’s work in our exhibitions Figures & Faces, Part 1 and Landscape, so Beautiful!. You might also visit his Instagram and Facebook pages. Henri Haake is portrayed in Friedrich Tiedtke’s movie “Man on Blue“.

You might also want to see the artists working in a similar way: Janes Haid-Schmallenberg, Forster Herchenbach, Christine Krämer, Anne Lass, Aaron Rahe, Gilles Roudière and Frank Sperling.



1989born in Lübeck
2007-10took courses at the Atelier Colour Works, Lee Kozlik, Lübeck
2010-16studied fine arts at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, since 2011 with Robert Lucander
2013Hunter College, New York , MFA
2015Knispel Preis for painting and graphics
Diploma at the Universtität der Künste, Berlin
2016Master Student, Universität der Künste, Berlin

Lives and works in Berlin

exhibitions (selection)

2018Panorama, Dapontegasse 5, Vienna (solo)
demi-gros, Les Valseuses, Berlin
That´s all right mama, XXY-Raum für Kunst, Berlin
2017Unexpectations 2 – Wo die Blumen sind, Artrium Tower on Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
Why am I really German, Kunstverein Wiesen e.V., Wiesen
2016Berlin Masters, A3, Arndt Art Agency, Berlin
Dialog der Residuen, Köppe Contemporary, Berlin (solo, with Jeewi Lee)
Cross Section I, Busche, Berlin
2014Transformation, Universität der Künste, Berlin
2013Hunters MFA Open Studio, New York
Nachschlag, Uferhallen, Berlin
Quer, Universität der Künste, Berlin
2012Red Smoke, Galerie Manzoni Schäper, Berlin
2011Berlin – London, Gutshaus Erlenbach, Zurich
Simultaneity, Atelier Colour Works, Essig Fabrik, Lübeck

2011-2016 participated regularly in the Rundgänge of the Universität der Künste, Berlin