Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Following this well-known concept, the works of the Berlin artist Christian Hoffmann demand of the recipient a particular form of empathy and a co-creative viewing process.
As Hoffmann himself says, his works require a “visual fascination” and aim at the particular attention that describes the conscious focussing of the senses on fundamental phenomena. An attention that looks closely, that listens and feels and permits one to grasp the secret magic and perfection in seemingly trivial moments. With his paintings, Hoffmann traces, above all, the moved and the moving between this sensuous perception, a cognitive appreciation, and the re-creation of natural moments. Through interaction with the beholder, landscapes emerge that seem to form from the edges of dark woods, reflective surfaces of water and iridescent air masses. Hoffmann’s paintings visualise both works of nature and, correspondingly, appearances of the elements but also, with special emphasis, the result of a creative process. In particular, it is his pastose paint application that illustrates the painter’s participation in the moment of re-creation and underlines the artistic appropriation of the creatural.
Thus, Hoffmann creates colour formations and, in part, serial arrays, the titles of which (for instance, “zwielicht, dionysisch – twilight, Dionysian” or “morgenlicht, apollinisch – morning light, Apollinian”) point to the indissolvable conditionality of antagonistic phenomena between passing and arising. Philosophically, this approach relates to the dark, destructive elements in contrast to the light, organizing elements in life and nature and, at the same time, fathoms the creative power of the artist who, as legend says, acts between the ecstatic urge to express and the creative will to organize.
Mostly, where something vanishes, something new emerges. Visualised, it is a permanent transitional zone that finds its expression in Hoffmann’s use of broken colours. This points significantly beyond the momentariness of a single painting and represents a process that can also be understood as a narrative of a system characterized by permanent change. For in the instant between two states such as light and darkness or warmth and cold, concrete forms also become indistinct – horizon lines or water surfaces appear blurred by diffused light and dissolve in hazy air. But it is right here, at the very heart of the perpetual movement, that a special moment of tranquility and deep understanding can be found. Comprehensive seeing and recognition including an inward view are needed here, enabling the beholder to “pause and let time stand still” (Hoffmann).
Christian Hoffmann’s artistic means refer to the spirit of the impressionist landscape concept and, in their formal aspects, also remind one of the non-representative and driven-by-meditative-vibration colour-field painting. However, in contrast to the works of a Mark Rothko, whose paintings are fully averted from the subject, Hoffmann intends to visualise the vibrant pulsation of nature itself, leaving the colour as a vehicle of impression to the subject. Thus, his works reveal themselves as a painterly approach to the – highly topical – discourse of challenging the concepts of picture and reality during the ongoing process of exploring the conditions and capabilities of human perception.
Dr. Nicola Schröder Plock