Eric Hoffmann: Watercolors
December 12, 2006
Eric Hoffmann’s drawings (watercolors) are an exploration of what he refers to as “Objective Minimalism,” an intellectual examination of composition, emotion, monochromatic elements, mathematical references and the meaning of detail. These drawings make architecture their subject matter, but are not really about architecture. For example, Hoffmann translates the cornice of a building into a line. The brickwork then becomes an aesthetic vehicle to draw the viewer’s attention to the massiveness of the wall; this objective wall metamorphoses to become a compositional element of space, weight and density. The compositional part of his work is coupled with subtle mathematical references. The division and geometry of space is clearly of paramount importance in what engrosses the artist. Even the size 20” x 20” is of utmost importance because of the challenge to work on a more intimate scale, though by no means precious in size, and to express a piece much larger in scale than the 20” square would suggest. He is primarily obsessed with the complexity of the square, its equal sides demanding an approach to the analysis of compositional tension different from the more classical rectangular shape.
Hoffmann views detail in a strikingly different way from, for instance, that of your
Photorealists. Detail is but one of many components of his creations, as opposed to being the entire story. In actuality, the brick is one element, repeated perhaps 50,000 times to create an aesthetic for drawing the viewer into a much more complex and radical world.
As sometimes happens with artwork, an individual looking at work may not see beyond the detail to view the picture in its entirety. But here, seduced by Hoffmann’s detailed wall we find ourselves moving on to the next layer of his work, compelled to acknowledge the multi-faceted aspect of his drawings. Detail unto itself is not something to be factored into these watercolors.
His insistence on a monochromatic palette works in synergy with the subject matter; at this moment in the trajectory of his work, the development of a new minimalist language can be pursued only if he renounces the interference of color. Because minimalism has always been the province of those who work in nonobjective form, Hoffmann has been influenced by a monochromatic approach within this school to create a new vocabulary for the interpretation of minimalism.