Peter Allen Hoffmann (2011)


Peter Allen Hoffmann

Art Korea (English translation)

News from Abroad – Chicago
Peter Allen Hoffmann: When the Cathedrals Were White

April1 – May 21, 2011
Thomas Robertello Gallery, Chicago

Writer/Gun-Young Jang
Majored in Living Design in Yonsei University,
Majoring in Fine Art in School of Art Institute of Chicago

P. 146

At one of the representative galleries in the West Loop in Chicago, is Peter Allen Hoffmann’s solo exhibition, When the Cathedrals Were White. Hoffmann is a New York, Brooklyn based artist. He shows eighteen landscape, still life and abstract oil paintings in this exhibition. Born in 1979, this young artist’s exhibition brings a fresh perspective to the first exhibition in a new location for the young and experimental Thomas Robertello Gallery.

As we can see from the name of the exhibition, Hoffmann is inspired by ‘When the Cathedrals Were White’ by Le Corbusier, a French Modernism Designer. Based on Le Corbusier’s idea of Reflection, Hoffmann reinterprets reflection as mirror to the artist and viewer, as memory, the effect that light and water create, and the implied time in the images. For example, in Journal he varnishes over the skull image so that when the viewer confronts the painting, there is an illusion that she/he is reflected in a mirror. Hoffmann also indirectly reveals these themes in The Sea, The Sea, his landscape painting of the sky and the sea, by providing the relationship between horizontally divided parts.

Hoffmann shows the theme of Reflection directly and indirectly. The size of most of his paintings are 12 × 12, and these small images are originated from many sources, such as landscape, abstract, and still life. The most impressive aspect is that he naturally unites all the different imagery, such as a Courbet still life and an Albers abstraction, in the theme of Reflection. It is as if he throws a question at himself and then suggests answers through various works that are liberated from format.


Although Hoffmann tries to answer the questions through various means, it is sudden and wondrous when we see his still life paintings, such as Pomegranate 3 (2011), since he has previously been drawn mostly to landscape and abstract painting. However, we can understand his intention once we realize that he is influenced by the still life paintings of Courbet, who was a master of realism in 19th century. Courbet mostly had been dealing with landscapes of nature and daily lives of people. After he became a prisoner as a result of The Paris Cummune in 1871, he realized that he was no longer able to access these subjects. Instead, he started drawing still life paintings with subjects that he had access to, such as fruit. Still Life with Apples and Pomegranate (1872) is a good example. It is very interesting that Hoffmann seems to wittily reflect his personal situation or experience to Courbet’s story.

The landscape paintings that are based on Hoffmann’s memory show his ability to profoundly express the intended theme. He works carefully, following a detailed plan of every small element such as lines, sides, or faces. Therefore, the brushstrokes are visibly revealed in his paintings but there is no single element that pops out of the entire image. When the viewer sees these deliberately tuned images, they circulate their perspective for the overall flow of the image rather than any specific element of the image. Eventually, they perceive the piece as a comprehensive impression. Through this process, they receive the feeling as if endless time is accumulated in a sight, and that this is the quality of enormous time that Hoffmann wanted to capture in these small canvases.

Hoffmann began his study in the Hudson River School that suggested American Romantic Realism landscape. This probably influences his detailed and delicate works. Hoffmann’s sixth solo exhibition will be a pleasant gift for contemporary people who have gotten used to senseless provocative images. It will give them a quiet and slow time of contemplation.

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