It is easy to dismiss the painting of Maciej Hoffman with a word “literary” which is offensive for the artist. That is because Hoffman demonstratively names his paintings giving them clear titles, in a way, which does not allow to avoid the suggested connotations. We are not only dealing with a clear plastic message, which attracts attention only with its form, line arrangement, proportions or colors, but also with a piece which appeals to the mind. It is not only about the aesthetic impression but also about the moral one.
It looks as if the painter consciously goes back to the medieval traditions /proverbial/ – proverbs/warnings, moral preachers, which should be included in an piece of art. Even when the name is as laconic as “Trade”. As a matter of fact, it is not one painting but a cycle based on ironic observations about the world full of trade, materialization of human beings, where everything is decided by money. In one of the painting of this cycle (Trade 1), a human head was treated as a coin intake machine – that is the essence of this particularly derisive cycle.
But Hoffman is not only a shrewd observer and a virulent commentator of the consumerist reality, but also sometimes his painting leans towards a joke, a gag, irony and distance. For example, in “Karzeł”, where we can find the inscribed words “dwarf /symbol/ of the low price”, which is an obvious hint at the advertising trick ubiquitous in the media world. A more disinterested joke also appears in these paintings – here, a portray of a consumer of a fish – in his mouth there is an untouched goldfish, which he ‘caught’ on the plate, while on that plate there lies a skeleton of a not yet consumed fish. And the glutton could have said three wishes as in a commonly know fable.
The discussion about the many personifications of the today’s Venus is also interesting. Its beauty is highly controversial, evidently tainted with the history of painting, starting with Cubists.
Hoffman paints with a handful, with wide moves of the brush, the expressiveness of his paintings comes from the shortness and the pursue of synthetic transfer. In the before mentioned “Trade” cycle, he places a trace of a human being (or maybe a God) in the outline of a cross, and in another painting of that series he presents a buyer, a massive head connected to a supermarket cart, the head is glancing at a body of a beautiful women – that is the loot of an omnivorous consumer, that is the body on sale. In the “Konsument” painting, a phantom of a buyer appears, blue head dripping with paint falling to the cart – its open mouth and red eyes make us think of the Evil. Only the wolves eyes are left, the rest passed into nonexistence.
That is painting which inspires to think, makes us reconsider the world rushing somewhere, forces us to stop. If not, we are in danger of a catastrophe. Hoffman humorously comments on his painting with a slogan: “Świeżo malowane” (freshly painted), which is usually placed to warn the passersby. This way, the artist point attention to the topicality of the message, which is valid here and now.