There is something sinister yet innocent about the doll sculptures you create. What do they mean to you?
They mean everything to me. I cannot conceive waking up without an idea of how I will improve a piece, or how what I do during the day will contribute to my work.At the beginning the doll was just a pretext, a way of expression; after 15 years I’ve discovered that it's much more than that. For me the image of the classic doll depicts an ideal of beauty and innocence of childhood, but is somehow an over-dimension of tenderness that often touches the monstrous. My characters are inspired in dolls, but at the end they are a reflection of human expressions and emotions. Is a subtle sense of palpitation what I am looking for; is the constant search of that “thing” you cannot quite explain with words.
What's the process of making them? How do you come up with the various expressions on the faces?
It starts with an inspiration, it can be virtually anything. I usually conceive a group of pieces as if it was a cast from a theater play; every character has a specific role in the story. For instance, this time I have been obsessed with the classic images of the circus and the 1930’s Tod Browning’s film “Freaks”. A heartbreaking story of the human dramas within a traveling circus. So my new group is taking a lot from this story, and from the circus world. I begin with a theme, a starting point; then it evolves by itself, opening new windows to other reflections and sources of inspirations.
Are you into toy collecting?
Oh yes, I love collecting dolls. In fact I could say that when it comes to my work, I have the personality of a collector. That pervasive feeling of nostalgia (and an obsessive sense of accumulation) of collectors permeates into my work.
What medium is one you would like to explore with your work that has not happened yet?
Inflatable sculptures, fiberglass, resin, bronze, so many things yet to explore.
Anything coming up?
Yes, a new exciting group of pieces. I am currently producing approximately 20 pieces for my representing gallery in Europe.
Lowest point in your art career was when?
When I moved to the US and had to figure out a new way to make my sculptures. It was hard to adapt myself to a whole new environment. It is not easy to get out of your comfort zone and start from square one. But ultimately everything is for a good reason, and an opportunity to open your mind to new things.
Highest point in your career so far has been?
It is hard to pinpoint a high point in my career. In some ways, I consider my work to be in constant evolution. So, every new set of pieces is a new highest point. But I guess that my 2 solo shows in Madrid in 2002 and 2004, and my participation in the 2010 Sao Paolo Art fair have a special place in my heart. You don’t get to be alongside with great contemporary masters like Damien Hirst, Vik Muniz or Joana Vasconcelos every day. Also I am very proud of being part of collections such as the MOLAA Museum of Latin American Art in California, the Everson Museum in New York, and The César Gaviria Trujillo collection (former President of Colombia and Secretary General of the Organization of American States).
You just had surgery? Is everything alright? What happened?
Yeah I just had surgery for the second time in my life. The first time they waited until I was awake to remove the catheter so life is improving. I got appendicitis and almost died if it weren’t for Snow White (my girlfriend) telling me to go to the E.R. They rushed me in to surgery and also found a hernia which they fixed at the same time. It went pretty smooth though thankfully.
Do you think this will have any effect on your work?
Currently I am working on small works due to medical lifting restrictions temporarily on anything over twenty lbs. That is really the only way it is affecting my craft. As it stands I have a solid understanding on the desires of my design capability so I’ll be focusing on reducing my pin stripes to smaller geometric forms.
How is the scene in Dallas?
The scene in Dallas is actually very healthy at the moment thanks to the Internet. There are some pretty exciting things going on here right now. It seems like a bit of a renaissance of art and culture at the moment. Our down town Dallas arts district now has like more institutional bldgs. Designed by Pritzker accredited people than I think anywhere else or something like that plus we are neighbor cities to Fort Worth which has a world class museum district so in that regard there is never a dull moment. On the grass roots level it’s equally as healthy. There are just enough fresh out of art school art elitist Nazi-like hipsters to keep the critics happy. On the real though, we have Jeremy Strick and Maxwell Anderson really stepping up the programming at The Nasher and The D.M.A. I was blown away to see Katharina Grosse recently for the first time in Dallas. Across the street Mr. Anderson made the Dallas Museum of Art with Free admission. The advent of an annual art fair in recent years here has also spurred added international attention as well as the new programming with Peter Doroshenko at The Dallas Contemporary. So yeah. I’d say it’s been very progressive here.
Is it true you are a high school drop out?
Yes, this is true. In that regard I am an outsider. Dallas was always very stand-offish towards me for that reason. It’s not a town for outsider artists. My art is not identifiable with that type of jargon, but it’s true. I have a 9th grade high school education and that’s it. The tipping point was when I had to go to alternative school and they wanted to make me pull my pants up, tuck my shirt in and wear a belt. I set my books down and officially dropped out at that point. I believe my conduct with my Algebra teacher led me to alternative school. I figured out a word problem without her formula and got in trouble and then blew up and it all went downhill from there. I used to draw pentagrams on my homework assignments just to mess with her. Such a moron, but a funny moron so time well spent. The only regret about leaving high school was that I couldn’t play my Tenor Saxophone any longer because I could not afford one other than the school provided. I was good at it and loved to play.
must be filtered through in order to become manifest. One of those systems being “math”. But no, Math, to me is not readily identifiable for my work and only pertains to a facet of its overall make-up.
Where are some places you have shown? Any crazy stories?
In the beginning I used to show my work at bars and sidewalks. I sold some really good pieces for really cheap to drunk people and hope it’s not lost as a result. There was one really rich guy that paid me for a big canvas and he told me that it was going to be a family heirloom. He was pretty cool. I also showed on a side walk across the street from the local contemporary art dealers of dallas 2nd annual art fair back when those people were not my friends. I loaded my truck up, stacked the art in the bed and leaned it on a vacant warehouse wall. The people driving out from the art fair looked and laughed at me. No one stopped. Now, not even ten years later I am starting to show in museums so whateva.
Your work seems pretty mathematical, is it really?
“Mathematical” is only one form of a lowered manifestation of absolute universal truth. I suppose that there are several veils that the transmission of my work
What has been one of the most valuable things you have learned so far in this life as an artist?
To put art second and life first. I have been working so hard trying to get off the ground with output and innovation in my work for about ten years and have lost personally in different ways. Playing the role of an artist I have also re-affirmed other personal beliefs about life such as endeavoring with an independent outlook. Art has always been about freedom of expression, but once kids starting piddling around with art school and chasing the scene many of them get caught up in trends and the life style (whatever that is) of being an artist which is totally backwards. I have a saying, “life over art” and will always believe in what it can offer. As far as my craft as an artist is concerned I have benefitted positively with the evolution of my experience in life.
My art has evolved at some points to very high degrees of tolerance in design and this has cultivated my mental focus in general which has benefitted my life in greater way such as reading the directions on whatever it may be, be it assembling some weird piece of furniture or programming a television without aggravation. Also, I have opened myself up to the complex world of chemicals and how they relate to each other in regards to my various processes which also require greater focus. I don’t really feel I have learned about life as an artist rather my beliefs in and about life have informed my experience positively as an artist for the most part.
Hightest point in your art career was when?
I was asked to be in, For Which It Stands, an internationally published book of contemporary artists who celebrate Americana. I was hand selected along side artists like Ai Weiwei, Kevin Berlin, Shepard Fairey, Steve McQueen, Barbara Kruger, and Vik Muniz.
Julius Hofmann doesn’t illustrate invented stories. He portrays what is inside him: doubt and fear, possible danger and threats, and he plays with temptations, metamorphoses and masquerades. His stories come into being during painting, and are made with brushes and paint, and also with saws, cutters, cardboard, glue or on the computer. Their meaning changes, is expanded or deleted, often faster than they came into being. Julius Hofmann is a filmmaker. He’s a filmmaker, but above all he’s an actor, a make-up artist, a set designer, a cameraman, a editor, a sound engineer and director, all in one. His films, though few, are nevertheless of high quality, and compact in an oppressive way, just like his paintings, which look like condensed films. It is implied that things have happened and that afterwards anything is possible. A road to a dark forest, water that is devoured by the night, a shadow kingdom behind a wall. The young artist appears to have left behind trails, tempting us to look at something.
Hofmann feels connected to the romantic artists, who always left something open, something to guess at. Like them, he doesn’t feel comfortable with the classical harmony of ‘noble simplicity and silent greatness’. He’s closer to symbolism, just as Francis Bacon, who suppressed his doubts and loneliness with the images he made. But examples aren’t the starting point of the word of forms and motifs of Julius Hofmann. His starting point is the tension between the flood of media images that surrounds him, which he dissects with his keen glance, and the world of silence that he soaks up for his wealth of images and souls during his long cycle rides. In the beginning there is only chaos. Within that he starts weaving his threads and from that he constructs his paintings. Some have enticing, friendly colours, others are brightly coloured. There aren’t many figures, but they are full of symbolism. The most prominent character in the paintings and films is a man with a dog mask. The mask makes him both invisible and acts as a protective helmet, to combat villains and to suffer together with prisoners. Murderers appear too, but they already show the face of death. Femininity looks like cast porcelain and mobile technology is indispensable for the image world of the painter and sculptor. Here, he is a man of his time. But he is also someone who tests the designer’s harmonies and looks for the boundaries of destruction.Julius Hofmann makes a breach in the wallpaper of our daily image mania and gives us a view of his world. Better yet: He tempts us to discover a counter-world that looks fierce in order to protect something fragile. (Bernd Sikora)