The surfaces of Peter Hoffer’s landscape and abstract paintings are coated with a highly reflective resin varnish. This material was chosen as a means to create tension between a painted surface and refined encapsulation. This packaging of the “objet d’art” stills a moment in space and time and alludes to an item of value, not unlike religious reliquary.
This process of exaggerated surface varnishing was extracted from the historical 19th century practice of Parisian-style Salon exhibition. The “vernissage,” which today is known as the “opening,” was a common event among painters to re-varnish or shellac their works. This would make the piece refined and give it the appearance of being new and freshly completed. As it were, if the artists painting did not sell, the painting would travel to the next salon and the process would be repeated. For Hoffer, this suggested an unsold painting would be subject to multiple varnishings, and the outer surface of the painting would eventually obscure the image.
Initial works (1996-1999) were created using traditional methods of varnishing. A damar varnish was applied in multiple layers, often 10 to 15, over an extended period of time. Paint was sometimes applied in between certain successive layers creating a sense of depth and dimension.
It was later (2000) that many of the paintings integrated a synthetic resin surface. This at first was used as an outer shell to the piece. An epoxy and acrylic coating was applied over the damar varnish, stablizing it and allowing for a much thicker doming effect. The surface would now be raised from the painting by 1/8 of an inch to as thick as ½ inch.
Inconsistencies including discoloration and surface cracking are intentional and integral to the resin paintings. Many of these works have surfaces with various anomalies within the mixed resins. Surfaces are often layered off center thereby exaggerating the inconsistent topography. Random scratches, sporadic markings and various abrasions may appear throughout the shell of these particular works.
For the artist, this sets up a necessary balance between the naturalness of the painted and organic landscape and the artificial sense of the precious “objet d’art.” A contrast is emphasized between the controlled hand of the artist and the force of the material. In a sense, the painting adopts certain characteristics of the landscape, forever changing and evolving as material breaks down and alters composition.
On several pieces the works were subjected to the extremely cold temperatures of the Quebec winter. The harsh environment etches and stresses the thickly varnished painting prematurely cracking the brittle varnish, and sometimes bleaching and altering the structure of the surface.
Reference is made to theatrical backdrops. The rapid execution of these paintings creates a generalized suggestion of a place or setting. The viewer is both the actor in the scene and becomes a player within a scenario where the trees and landscape are personified and situated within the stages.
A notion of pending drama looms in the err of these works. The time of day or location of the “self” are called into question as the viewer sees beyond the distraction of the glossed surfaces.
This current series of landscapes further exaggerates the separation of scenic perspective through the literal division of the painting’s surface. Although the surfaces are divided into 2 or 3 sections, they are in fact assembled and painted together.
When assembled within an exhibition, the separation between each individual piece falls into a chapter. A continuity is created through the play of painted surface, against the parameter of each painting’s structure. When one divided painting is positioned next to another, the part is seen as a whole.
2016 WORKS ON PAPER
A landscape is continually evolving. Its topography consists of repetitive gestures of surfacing, resurfacing and erosion. Exposed to the elements, scarred by the wind and shifting soils, the landscape reveals it’s own narrative.
Both naturally and artificially, the regeneration of a forest or landscape is subtle to our notice, as it continues to evolve and in some instances, reclaim its natural state.
The same holds true for urban landscape. The urban planners choreograph the city to accepted standards. these often erode through time and environmental challenges. The surface of structures also succumb to natural and manmade erosion, imposed upon through deliberate acts of various interventions.
The recent works of mine are about the urban landscape, and our direct relationship with it.
This particular work for me is quite auto-biographical as it became a reference point for my daily journey to and from my studio.
Das Neue Album 2016 was created as a response to the phenomenon of street advertising and graffiti. The minimalist ad debuting David Bowie’s recent album was just such an example of an ad positioned a various locations around Berlin. The billboard display phenomenon is such that an old posting is often replaced on regular intervals. A Berlin billboard or poster will last only for up to two weeks to 1 month, after which the images are rendered obsolete and void. When the overlaying of these poster ads get too thick, they peel off inconsistently, creating an expressionist-like frayed paper image on the walls. Revealed in torn paper is glimpse into the history of past images. The surfaces by process of repeated layering and uncovering, build up a topography that mimics surfaces found in nature.
“Welcome Refugees” is a cluster of such layered ads, peeled from the Yorkstrasse U-Bahn station. The Welcome Refugees “ phrase is inscribed around the city, especially recently due to the prevailing Immigration crisis here. I have chosen to cut the letters of the popular phrase into the poster itself. The idea of the phrase being covered repeatedly parallels the ongoing influx of conflicting opinions that are ever changing. As well the tactility of the removed letters contrasts the two dimensional images of the advertisement.
Each successive layer represents a passage of time. The power of the phrase is etched over the banality of an event or product promotional. These advertisements are omnipotent around Berlin making them, as the refugee situation itself, always present, even if it’s peripheral.