Maciej Hoffman interviewed by Anna Leszkowska:
1. Fourteen years after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław in both sculpture at professor F. Kocianowski´s and painting at professor K. Jarodzki´s workshops your works appear in public. What happened that only now you have begun to feel the urge to show your paintings to the world? Did you create in seclusion, hidden from the world, or have you only now returned to the artistic activity? Why did it take so long?
After graduating from the Academy I went through a stage of fascination with new technologies, possibilities of computer designing, creating a picture with use of photography and the computer. I was also absorbed by the world of advertisement communication, creating publications and ad spots. At an advertising agency we set up together with my fellow artists we learnt how to create an advertising message on “live organisms” of our customers who were learning about the “capitalist business”. Everything there was new and attractive. It was then that I let myself get fooled by the impression that the traditional techniques and the profession of an artist are heading for extinction.
At a certain point I realized that new technologies could not replace the old ones in terms of the means of expression, of rendering the expression, the human emotion and the touch of a human hand. I was also looking for detachment from the commercial activities and I wanted to tell a story about this search. I could say that over this time my consciousness and my attitude towards the world were formed. I went off this marketing-advertising front line in order to look at such a world from outside. The work at the agency enabled me to make observations about image construction, about message manipulation and the ruthless fight for the customers (as there is no human being, but a customer in advertising). The entire relationship created by the world of advertising comes down to the fact that a man is always one of the elements in the relation between the buyer, the seller and the person being sold. You can indeed exist as a product. Your absence in this chain of relations condemns you to a kind of nonexistence.
2. The degrees you made in the two areas of art suggest you could not make up your mind during your studies whether to choose sculpture or painting. Now, judging by the works showed at the exhibition in the Na Solnym gallery in Wroclaw, the painting prevailed. Is it because you like to work fast? Or maybe, after these years you decided you found this form of expression better?
Painting has always fascinated me and my master thesis was a subject on the borderline between painting and sculpture. It was about spatial forms treated as a foundation for a painting. For me, there is no visible border between painting and sculpture as forms of expression. I dream of a painting that goes out into space or that drags inside, a painting which, while it still remains a painting, disturbs the space. It is some kind of a way for me for the future. The present exhibition is rather a look back into the past.
3. Your paintings are mostly about color, strong, saturated and contrasted with a clear-cut contour. This kind of painting has decorative values. At the same time, essentially you declare your opposition to consumption. Are you not afraid that in the perception, these decorative values and visual attractiveness will dominate over the reflection? What does the color mean to you?
The works of the cycle “marketing civilization” refer to the composition of press ads and the search of a way to influence people more and more. Thus the poster-like flatness of the background with a strong color, which in the world of advertising is supposed to make the message clearer and draw the attention to the product. This kind of message has to be visually attractive. It should be admired or at least attract people’s attention. Contrasting the colors you increase this effect.
And the color? The color is an emotional condition, the drama and exposition. You add to it the contour, which is a search of the values, a formal way of contrasting. That is the kind of the creating of a painting that interests me. The search of tensions between the line and the spot, crashing the trends, the fast movement of the brush against the surface. I do not consider it a rebellion. It is rather an attempt to draw the viewer´s attention to what the world looks like from this perspective.
In the exhibition I will present the triptych, “Karzeł” (The Dwarf), “For rent” and “Target group”, which will touch on how the advertising ruthlessly uses the symbols and appropriates them for the commercial needs. Symbols and authorities which are deeply rooted in our consciousness are a pretext for pushing you any product, beverage or a screw just by putting in the ad a man dressed up in a white lab-coat or wearing a dog collar .
4. Your most recent works are in a different technique – c-print. The paintings are totally different in terms of colors. They are subtle and reflective. Is it just a change in your artist’s technique or is it a significant turn in the works?
I´m working on some of these pieces simultaneously. Not all of them are published. Sometimes these are computer made sketches for a composition. I do not give too much importance to these pieces. The movement of the brush is much more important to me.
5. Is your return to the world of the exhibiting artists for good, or are you going to hide again?
For the time being painting has absorbed me and I am constantly at work. What will happen in the future, and when, this cannot be predicted either by me or by the man in the white coat. And seriously speaking, it seems that I have mentally returned to art.
6. I observed that both in sculpture and in painting the motifs of a human face or silhouette can often be found. Do you attach a special importance to it?
The motif of a head both in the previous and in the present period is a sort of an observer, a frame of reference as in physics. I paint figurative compositions; the head is a kind of a clothed brain. Aside from that I simply find it compositionally suitable when rescaled and contrasted with other elements.
Maciej Hoffman was interviewed by Anna Leszkowska
(Article from www.aict.art.pl)