Julius Hofmann’s Brick & Mortar

Review by Molly Cranston

For his current exhibition, Brick & Mortar, at Althuis Hofland Fine Arts in Amsterdam, Julius Hofmann has produced a series of paintings that consider movement and surface within the digital realm. In true videogame form, Hofmann builds a placeless, modular city-scape brimming with construction sites and a flurry of conflicting urban planning styles. Continental pebble dash, medieval arrow slit windows, and neoclassical garden features sit at odds with the glassy facades of distant skyscrapers under a dismal sky of muscular smog. A bright light source from the left creates shallow shadows that give the compositions the air of a cyber theatre set, fake and breakable. 

Painting frames from “the same animated scene just split seconds apart,” Hofmann creates triptychs of the same image with minuscule differences, like the downward touch of a finger or the movement of a single bric. He imposes expressive, detailed textures on to the geometric shapes that make up his figures, a homage to 90’s gamer aesthetics. The culmination is a rich and satisfying visual language, a simultaneous state of lightness and death-drive. Hofmann’s players are strong manual labourers and athletic types, bound to build the apocalyptic patchwork metropolis around them. Brick & Mortar is open til November 13th.

Images courtesy the artist and Althuis  Hofland Fine Arts
Photographer: Jean-Baptise Maitre