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For her second solo show at Galerie Dix9, Karine Hoffman presents recent paintings as well as her new experiments in sculpture made of ceramics. Analysis by art critic Elora Weill-Engerer (translation: Jeremy Harrison)
" An imaginary order is destroyed, objects overturned, seen upside down"
Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour.
Every true creator is a stutterer. There is surely a pleasure, when it comes to painting, in starting over again, in working one's way closer to the subject without ever capturing it. "One must imagine Sisyphus happy," Albert Camus said. The intense pleasure of not quite getting there, that ecstatic feeling of (im-)perfecting something, underlies Karine Hoffman's approach to painting, which implies that any work she creates is, in part, done blind ? an eminently romantic theme: you close your eyes in order to see your feelings, and then your creativity draws up a panoply of visual images from the depths of your consciousness. So what we get is epiphanic painting which allows of no interpretation, and, in a certain sense, provides nothing to see: it has to be felt, touched almost; it invites us into a tactile and fusional relationship with the matter. Scratched with a paintbrush handle, smoothed with a knife, rubbed, irregular, the painting transcribes a range of phenomena (soft or hard, constructed or vaporous) that embrace the eye like an enthralling spectacle. Heraclitean painting ? inexhaustible, elusive even to itself.
The atmosphere of Karine Hoffman's paintings is disturbing, composed, as they are, of night fires and lantern-lit forests. With their light and shade, set aflame with false suns and Greek fire, they can only be approached through the sfumato smokescreen. Access is veiled, the image hermetic. It is a painting of absence, which dallies with the memories of memories, without heed to any form of logic. One notes contradictory shadows and multiple suns within a multi-focal scheme. There is a disruptive element at work here, busily subverting a constructed, composed space. These unpeopled surfaces are miasmal antechambers, post-trauma locations still crackling after the storm; they give life to the painting without the distraction of a subject. The more devoid the painting is of subject, the more capable it is of mediating a quasi-mystical experience. The void is precisely where the foreseeable communicates with the unseeable, where the opacification of the medium of painting is an artistic means of evoking an infinite space that continues beyond the canvas so that the narrative is left open. Similarly, Karine Hoffman's chemical hues are not so much colours as dynamic elements that emerge from the painting: yellow/light, green/fluid, grey/earth, and orange/heliotrope breathe movement into this ecliptic painting. We find the same dynamism in the ceramics; solid fragments extracted like slag from the paintings. These sculptural works are clearly direct descendants of the two-dimensional work: both are intended to be set against each other and, in responding to each other, to close a loop. In parallel to the visual vocabulary, there is a similar clash of materials: matt and gloss, glazed and unglazed, fired and unfired exist side by side in these ceramics assembled from scraps gleaned from the real world (bricks, tree trunks, building site trimmings). These objects in gestation, objects that are evidence of their own destruction, reveal a thought in transit, in a non finito that twists reality.
A bed, a glove, a bucket, a box, a mushroom, a wall, a plank: the few commonplace objects that figure in the whole body of work, paradoxical though it is, are generically abstracted from their role, diverted from their usual purpose to become symptoms of an insoluble equation. In the midst of chaos, the conspicuous presence of these objects does not escape notice, just as no human being can escape itself. Emmanuel Levinas wrote (in De l?évasion [On Escape], 1935): ?What appears in shame, then, is precisely the fact of being tied to oneself, the radical impossibility of fleeing oneself in order to hide from oneself, the unforgivable presence of the self to oneself. Nakedness is shameful when it is a laying open of our being, of its ultimate intimacy." How strange and human it is to have laid bare these isolated objects, which seem to be witnesses to the event. They, in and of themselves, exclude the strict divide between abstraction and figuration. The impulse is shifted to the interstice between those two poles. What has traditionally been in the background of painting has now become the artist's field of exploration, her initiation into this world being built.
Per espera ad astra.
Through hardships to the stars.