Apr 1st 2011

Peter Allen Hoffmann: When the Cathedrals Were White

@ Thomas Robertello Gallery

27 N Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607

Opening Friday, April 1st, from 6PM - 8PM

On view through Saturday, May 21st

The title of Hoffmann’s exhibition is taken from the book by influential French modernist architect and designer, Le Corbusier; When the Cathedrals Were White. Perhaps most notable among Le Corbusier’s influences found in Hoffmann’s work is the idea of Reflection. Reflection as mirror to the artist and viewer, as memory, as spatial gaming within the picture plane, the play of light and water, and reflection as measurement of time taken to engage with the work itself.

Literal and metaphorical references to the idea of reflection abound in Hoffmann’s small scale, mostly 12 × 12″ square paintings. The imagery contains numerous references to landscape, abstract, and still life painters including Courbet, Albers, and others. These influences are combined with representations of landscape painted from memory, including images from Islesboro, Maine where the artist often works during the summer. Together, these sources combine to form an intimate amalgam of disparate imagery. Hoffmann’s meticulous process succeeds in slowing down the viewer’s eye by subtly revealing layers in the work. Hoffmann’s work dissolves whatever boundary might exist between viewer, art object/image and everything else, leading one toward windows and measurements of time.

Hoffmann’s paintings contain a multitude of elements comprising an enormous measurement of time contained within a very small scope. Each element requires a deliberate action signifying the completion of a step in his process of resolving the painting. While the brush work is obvious, the paintings are completely devoid of gesture, and resolve their identities completely. The compression of time in each work prolongs the attention span of the viewer, and the artist’s own editing process upturns the viewer’s perception of amount of time taken to create and understand the work. Even the specificity of their point in history is elusive.

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