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Julius Hofmann

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Thrice Thousand Years, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 290x190cm
Thrice Thousand Years, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 290x190cm
Julius Hofmann is a child of the media, yet as a painter he practices the import of images considered to be obsolete back to the canvas. Thus painting also represents a memory of databased images, not as an archive for them but as their reflection. And when HD technology makes for optimum screen definition, then Hofmann very recently responds with increasingly dough-like forms, as might occur with glass slide projections: in the heat buildup, Newtonian rings join poor focus, which coalesces the motifs in a soft, psychedelic play of color. Julius Hofmann can operate sure-footedly in the field of electronic media. While doing so, in order to document his confident treatment of the same, his processing mode is infantilization, a form of spirited ego demonstration that ignores the professional aspect as well as the “courtesy” in social intercourse. The formation of identity in this attitude toward work indicates distance to the popular medium and the corresponding user codex. The playful aspect dominates the instructions for use and user control. As his opposite, the easel demands more creative as well as physical power of Hofmann than the mouse click.
His muscle-bound characters wearing sturdy shoes and wielding a weapon embody apopular ancestral portrait: the screen hero Rambo, that markedly anti-intellectual alternative to the messianic Che Guevara. Rambo also goes out on his guerilla missions as a lone fighter, yet for all of his individualism he obeys the white-collar strategists in the Pentagon. These human fighting machines celebrate poses that in view of the deployment of drones and security firms operating in the background seem martial and helpless at the same time. Yet if one keeps in mind the uniforms and bearing of the globally active jihadists and separatists, suggestive power of these exceptionally aggressive men remains unbroken to this day. However, Hofmann ruptures these images. As is the case in many cinematic blockbusters, the main protagonists time and again take up new assignments in other media, as well as on the shelves in toy stores, where one finds the multipurpose male weapon as Star Wars warriors and Power Rangers, meanwhile in a consummated liaison with mangaculture as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or as Teutans. Hofmann also pays attention to these characters, in particular to their vulnerability and imperfection when, while putting them together, a child’s fingers cannot quite get the upper and lower body to fit properly and the heads that are for the most part disproportionately small are placed precariously on the figure’s shoulder blade. With Hofmann, heroes come across as being flawed handwork. A blow with the fist on the tabletop and the hero in the toy landscape falls apart. Hofmann intensifies this impression by depicting arms and legs to resemble folded cardboard boxes, borrowing from the field of advertising, as in the case of stylized characters like the Michelin man and various Liftboy figures promoting cleaning agents and whose legs serve the sole purpose of wearing creased trousers. By means of these figures, Hofmann finds a visual resonance space in the grandfather generation of today’s pictograms. And if all of these faces of death seem to us to be ossified and alive in equal measure, then is probably their relatedness to the mummery of James Ensor’s necrophilia as well as to the numerous visual documents of Sicilian catacombs, whose residents welcome us, at once present and absent.
(excerpt from Hans-Werner Schmidt: A Child Dances at Night, in: Re-Import. Julius Hofmann, 2015, MMKoehn Verlag, Berlin/Leipzig)


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