Your mirrored thoughts in my Art: an Interview with Maciej Hoffman






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    By Olga Zapisek
    Published on February 26, 2010
    Scene 360 Magazine



Maciej Hoffman close up

Introduction

Maciej Hoffman was born on August 31st 1964 in Wroclaw, Poland. Although he grew up in a family of artists, it was not certain that Hoffman would follow the same path. Only in his third year at the Theological Academy in Wroclaw, did he become interested in drawing. His craving for Philosophy was no longer as powerful as the vocation to become an artist.


In 1988, Hoffman enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts, having graduated with a dual diploma in sculpture and painting. Yet surprisingly after finishing his studies under the guidance of a prestigious artists, Hoffman went on to pursue a career in advertising and marketing. In 2003, he began exploring web art and became passionate for it.

Today, Hoffman has returned to exhibiting his artwork. His recent painting “Statistic Death” was showcased briefly in Holland at a show entitled “The Global Village” (from Jan. 23 to Jan 3, 2010). His artistic journey will continue onward to Portugal during June 2010 with an interlaced solo exhibition.
Hoffman’s art is not only the echo of his own views, but also the materialistic realities of the consumerist world.




Interview

Olga Zapisek, Scene 360: When did you first become interested in art? Would you say there was a turning point in your artwork during your career?
Maciej Hoffman: I come from a home “Tainted by art,” my dad was a sculptor, my mom was a painter. When I was young, the natural course of fate was antagonism to following in my parents footsteps. The result of this was a “troubled” childhood, and young adulthood dedicated to mathematics and physics classes, which were shortly followed by a philosophy major at ATK (Theological Academy in Wroclaw). The change came in my third year of college, when one day I started drawing. And since then I couldn’t stop. A year later, I was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw with a strong focus on sculpture. However, throughout my entire collegiate career, my interests balanced between sculpture and painting; I ended up with a dual diploma.

Maciej Hoffman Gravitation art
"Gravitation" (2009), Oil on canvas, 210 x 185 cm, © Hoffman


What sort of message do you try to send through your art? Do you try to focus on a specific type of viewer?
I don’t know if you can call it a message, but my goal is an awakening toward reflection. “Spewing out” personal contemplations and experiences onto a canvas may come across as distasteful disrobement for some people, while for others a declaration of familiar emotions and occurrences. I can’t characterize a specific type of person who views my artwork, but what I can deduce is that they belong in the Homo sapiens category.

What classic and modern artists do you admire, and why?

Art from the Middle Ages serves as inspiration to me; the art of Renaissance masters. When it comes to drawing and illustration my favorites would have to be Goya and El Greco. Closer to Modernism: Chaim Soutin and Willem de Kooning, while presently: Anselm Kiefer, Cecily Brown, Glen Brown, and Daniel Richter. These are artists whose way of painting is close to my heart. Painting, in which there is a dominant freedom in the operation of the brush and confident building of contrasts as well as expressions, is also admired by me (here a whole lot of painters of this specific kind could be named). And I am still under the impression of such works like the unfinished sculptures of Michelangelo, whose artwork I recently came to admire once again.

Maciej Hoffman Carrion art
"Carrion" (2008), Oil on canvas, 160 x 200cm, © Hoffman


Where does your inspiration come from?

From my life, my observations, the collision of thoughts with reality. My most dramatic works came to life generally very quickly with a huge amount of tension–as a result of abrupt situations. A grandiose tension, which frequently seizes me as it transcends from the problems of the everyday through the walls of my studio. Almost all my days are accompanied by stress and the fear of endangerment. Encircled by the world in which for every breath… I have to pay a price with air to some disposer. There still remains the question of where is such a place: I could, or rather I would, live free from the stresses that rip me apart. Is there even such a place? Sometimes people feel resentment toward me, because of the dramatic or depressing resonance in my artwork. They think it is a facade or an artificially created situation. But I don’t pretend, and I don’t build up fake intensity. They simply are inside of me.

Do you have a goal you wish to accomplish during your career?

I am not the type of person to set such goals for myself. Rather it’s something in the style of “strategic growth” without a finish line, which I see in a specific place. My goal is to work a great deal and make it possible to share it frequently and widely with others. The purpose of my work is its presentation and the awakening of personal reflections in viewers.

Is there a specific gallery or museum in which you would like to see your work displayed?
A gallery in which I would like to present my work should be as big as possible, because I like large formats.

Maciej Hoffman painting
Hoffman working on a large-scale painting in his studio

What are your artistic plans for the nearest future?

I plan to simply work! I would also like to showcase my work regularly in “good” places. I’d like people to visit and comment on my exhibitions; so that my paintings can come to life.

In your biography published on your website, it is mentioned that you used to work for one of the largest advertising agencies in Poland. What led you to working in advertising? Did the commercial requirements restrict your artistic endeavors?
I was a collaborator for the agency along with friends from the academy. This was a turning point in Poland, the birth of our “capitalism, post-communism,” and freedom for us as well as for business. This was also the beginning of the era of fascination with computers and the ability to work with the help of new technologies. Back then it indulged us. The agency gained momentum and grew to solid proportions. Unfortunately, our understanding of economical risks, rules of the market, and a few other minor “details,” didn’t result in the end of the advertising adventure. All the experiences connected from then were still living within me. The world of advertising, the use of art for commercial purpose and foremost for unrelenting dominance for a precise profit, are legible for me with every step I take. This commercialized reality has tremendously transformed and outgrown us all. We are now a new kind of species. Maybe homo sapiens marketing us?

What is your creative process like? Do you take a lot of time researching and brainstorming before starting a new painting or sculpture?
I approach my work like any other. I am not the “Sunday painter” (as commonly referred to in Poland). I do not wait for inspiration. I paint every day because I have something to say; something to pass down in my own form. My art is a conscious process despite the fact that I show my emotions while painting and the way I paint could be described as impulsive and sudden. But this is only the climax point of the form. The reasons are instilled in my own thoughts.


Did the historical circumstances such as the fall of Communism in Poland, and then after living in a new political and economical reality influence your artwork?

Certainly. This was my life. When I was a teenager encroaching reality it was just the beginning of martial law in Poland. Then it was the fall of communism and other realities transpired, which we (Poles) wanted, but what we came to comprehend later on ones that we did not yet understand.

You recently came back to exhibiting your art. How would you compare artistic possibilities through the use of traditional techniques albeit modern computerized techniques? Which form do you feel most comfortable using?
Unquestionably painting is my life. I like hanging a new canvas and fighting with myself over which idea has priority to show up on it. I like paint, its structure, the different techniques of painting, and the different ways of creating a painting. I sometimes play around with the computer, but very rarely because it bores me. A little observation concerning computers is that though graphic programs as well as computers themselves, they are so easily attainable, this does not make those who have mastered the craft of Photoshop true artists. Though it is evident that many people think so; however, it is not the tool that makes an artist. But going back to your question, my two tools of choice are the paintbrush and a spatula. I also think about spatial works, I’d like to romance with sculpture, but that requires a bit more working space. In addition, it is much harder to showcase a sculpture, not to mention sell it.

Maciej Hoffman Last Word art
"Last Word" (2009), Oil on canvas, 100 x 100cm, © Hoffman

Did the historical circumstances such as the fall of Communism in Poland, and then after living in a new political and economical reality influence your artwork?

Certainly. This was my life. When I was a teenager encroaching reality it was just the beginning of martial law in Poland. Then it was the fall of communism and other realities transpired, which we (Poles) wanted, but what we came to comprehend later on ones that we did not yet understand.

You recently came back to exhibiting your art. How would you compare artistic possibilities through the use of traditional techniques albeit modern computerized techniques? Which form do you feel most comfortable using?
Unquestionably painting is my life. I like hanging a new canvas and fighting with myself over which idea has priority to show up on it. I like paint, its structure, the different techniques of painting, and the different ways of creating a painting. I sometimes play around with the computer, but very rarely because it bores me. A little observation concerning computers is that though graphic programs as well as computers themselves, they are so easily attainable, this does not make those who have mastered the craft of Photoshop true artists. Though it is evident that many people think so; however, it is not the tool that makes an artist. But going back to your question, my two tools of choice are the paintbrush and a spatula. I also think about spatial works, I’d like to romance with sculpture, but that requires a bit more working space. In addition, it is much harder to showcase a sculpture, not to mention sell it.

Maciej Hoffman Distance art
"Distance" (2009) Oil on canvas, 155 x 235cm, © Hoffman

A surprising combination of colors plays an important role in your paintings, an example is “Distance.” How do you choose colors? Does this require thoughtful consideration or just impulsiveness?

Each element that you have mentioned can be found on my palette. The conscious arrangement of colors as well as expressionistic tactic, which I think can be easily seen.

In essence, all of your works have precise titles. They can serve as hints to interpret your work. Do you not worry about misinterpretation, or giving too much away?

When painting I know what I want to send across, maybe this is where the specific titles come from. I hope they do stand as a barrier to unbiased interpretation. I have been met with a wide variety of feedback regarding my work, which not only makes me happy but I think goes to show that regardless of this each individual… he/she will see their own mirrored thoughts in my art.

END


Artist Maciej Hoffman


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