Julius Hofmann, Crucia, 200x150cm, acrylic on canvas, 2011
Julius Hofmann, born in Göttingen of central Germany in 1983, studied at Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig which was known as an epicenter of new painting in 21st century and was a protégé of Neo Lauch, the central figure of Neo-leipzig. While still in school, Hofmann displayed outstanding talents that he caught lots of attention from famous collectors in Europe and currently he is vigorously active in Europe and art fairs.
Leipzig school artists introduced in our exhibition last October worked under the socialist system of former East Germany which exploited paintings as political propaganda. Caught between artistic free will and art as political means, Leipzig school artists expressed the oppressed emotions through rough brushworks and colors.
Neo-leipzig school started to distinguish itself since early 1990s with Neo Lauch as one of its leading artists, and painted the image of the future society reflected in the chaos caused by a collision of two different systems with its own subjective language.
Apart from the 1st generation artists, Hofmann, known as 2nd generation of Neo-leipzig school, grew up in a society which had gone through the period of transition and was heading toward capitalism. He expresses various phenomena emerged in blending of past and present through colors and shapes of his own.
The common feature about Leipzig school is that its paintings are firmly based on fundamentals of painting and that within carries the message of its own. Leipzig school's visual representation which pursues the essence of traditional painting while exploring the modern society is viewed as the appearance of new painting in 21st century.
Rapid social change after the unification of Germany in 1990 greatly affected the artists of former East Germany. They won freedom of expression in pursuing their art, but were suffering an identity crisis because of the gap between their expectation toward the future society and reality.
Hoffmann is no exception indeed and we can find traces of chaos in his works all over.
He paints images of people who try to protect themselves from violence and cruelty caused by the torrent of media that suffocates our modern world through means of symbolization.
For instance, masks that often appear in his works play the role of helmet to protect oneself, and through these scary-looking masks, he hides his vulnerable inner feelings apt to be hurt by fear and suspicion of chaotic society that he experienced. Human figures which are expressed in shapes that can easily be shattered show the slice of modern people living the modern society.
Materials like drills and motorcycles can be interpreted as resistance against irrational reality caused by colliding with the changed society, that is, the capitalistic society.
In order to hide his ego weakened by the social chaos, Hoffmann expresses cruel and horrifying images with shapes rather flamboyant and peculiar and uses them in his paintings as media to communicate with the society.