K O S M O S
de Karine Hoffman
Texte de Théo-Mario Coppola 2018

 Figure rare de la peinture européenne, Karine Hoffman nourrit son oeuvre de traces de mémoire fantôme. Pour sa première exposition à la Galerie Dix9, sont présentées des peintures récentes, construites telles des équations impossibles faisant référence à des lieux ou des vies oubliés, de Lodz à Vilnius. Karine Hoffman définit sa peinture comme un filtre qui révèle ce qui est tombé dans l'oubli, un endroit étranger à elle-même où surgissent des fragments narratifs et des obsessions personnelles; la peinture comme monde et comme lieu d'une quête perpétuelle où l'action est relayée à la marge, faisant place à la fantasmagorie et au jeu.  

Enquête
Les contradictions animent le processus de création picturale de Karine Hoffman. Chaque paradoxe fait écho à la philosophie existentialiste, porté par le souffle d'un empirisme noir : la chair sans ombre est un cadavre sans désir. Ce sont les égarements qui signent la possible construction d'un récit, ce sont eux qui laissent des marges amples au creux desquelles se déversent des fantasmes, des farces, des jeux de mots, des idées grotesques. C'est ainsi que procède Karine Hoffman. Par enquêtes. Des recherches qui se construisent par tâtonnements, par accumulation d'idées et de situations. Chaque peinture s'inscrit dans un parcours, est une étape de cette enquête. Les titres marquent la confusion entre les langues, l'impossibilité de la traduction, la dimension affective des mots. La peinture conserve ainsi son ontologie primordiale, celle du sens caché et non de la révélation nécessaire ou de l'explication forcée.

Dédoublement à l'Est
Avant de connaître la Pologne, de s'y rendre, Karine Hoffman en a livré une vision fantasmée par des éléments épars. Les scènes représentées, abandonnées par l'action principale, suspendues dans un temps incertain, livrent des objets, des mots, comme autant d'indices d'une enquête sur sa destinée personnelle et le passé de la Pologne. Pour Karine Hoffman, la peinture permet de vivre un dédoublement, la fiction d'une autre elle-même vivant l'étrangeté de la peinture, la toute-puissance de la sensation. Exister autrement à travers la peinture lui permet de mettre à distance sa propre histoire, de la vivre comme une invention, un rêve. Cette méthodologie personnelle rappelle que la peinture est oeuvre de mensonge et de secret. Elle procède de la même manière à son retour de Vilnius, avec une série d'oeuvres qui réinterprète un voyage devenu fantasme.

Des paysages-mondes
Horizons entravés par la présence d'un mur, impossible percée vers la lumière, fumée profonde perturbant la vision. Tout ce qui restreint la vue augmente la complexité du paysage. Cryptés, inclusifs, secrets, kabbalistiques, les paysages-mondes de Karine Hoffman contiennent des procédés alchimiques. La translation d'un monde à l'autre, d'un paysage à l'autre, d'un état à l'autre annonce un moment de basculement. La représentation ne doit pas être véridique ou authentique. Chaque peinture est au contraire un monde autonome, constitué de fantasmes et d'apories. Dans la série KOSMOS, si l'horizon semble s'ouvrir, c'est pour prolonger la distance, multiplier les gestes et les textures picturales, les effets de matière par lesquels certains détails des oeuvres tendent à l'abstraction occulte.

Ce que nous devons à Witold Gombrowicz
Witold Gombrowicz est un auteur clef pour saisir l'oeuvre de Karine Hoffman. Il refuse comme elle l'idée de la pureté, l'idée même qu'il puisse exister un état flottant et intact de la pensée, détaché du réel. Au contraire, c'est la contamination des termes, la perturbation perpétuelle et le sacré des énigmes moribondes qui règnent tous ensemble. La forme, sans cesse pareille, sans cesse étrange est inédite. Seule expression possible de notre condition. Une obsession polymorphe, certaine, inexorable. Ni moderne, ni traditionnelle, Cosmos est une oeuvre singulière qui défie les avant-gardes comme les pourfendeurs d?un retour au classicisme. Elle échappe à la catégorisation. Le style vif et enlevé brutalise l'entendement, provoquant une accélération de la compréhension du réel même. Les scènes sont racontées avec une vigueur qui oscille entre le pittoresque outré et le symbolisme démoniaque, entre la recherche d'un état et l'impossible préscience du réel.

Résonnances littéraires
L'oeuvre de Karine Hoffman est traversée par une tradition narrative littéraire, un espace mental textuel dans lequel se côtoient Franz Kafka, Bruno Schulz, Jorge Luis Borges, Philip. K. Dick et Witold Gombrowicz. Chacun d'entre eux avance avec des enquêtes sans solution, poursuivant des quêtes inabouties, construisant des récits qui se bousculent dans des impasses. L'impossible n'est pas une complication mais une méthode de travail, une manière de construire une réflexion sur le monde. Répondre à une interrogation par une autre interrogation prolonge sans cesse l'énergie du questionnement. Le présent n'existe que dans la mesure où il conserve un ensemble d'énigmes, une kyrielle d'indices.

L'Histoire, territoire des abysses
Les scènes représentées semblent échapper à la caractérisation du lieu. Aucun élément d'architecture, aucun repère cartographié. Seuls les indices du temps (mais aussi de l'époque) permettent de saisir une partie de l'enquête. Les titres activent cette narration non conventionnelle, en rupture avec la chronologie ou la véracité des faits, indices et anecdotes à l'appui. Un gant usé, un arbre luminescent, un piolet assassin, une palissade de guingois s'imposent en indice d'une énigme, un territoire des abysses. Tandis que dans les séries précédentes, l'objet demeurait à la mesure humaine, qu'il était encore simple outil, la série Kosmos en démontre la démesure, la distorsion, la délirante présence. Ce sont les objets qui façonnent la dramaturgie. Le monde submerge l'espace, écartant la possible présence humaine. Ce n'est plus l'action abandonnée, la scène délaissée par ses acteurs qui dominent mais l'étrange emprise des objets. Ces scènes opèrent le prolongement d'un rêve, d'une angoisse, d'un trauma: elles marquent l'impossible quiétude des destinées personnelles traversées par l?Histoire.

Théo-Mario Coppola

From the text,"In translation",Pracownia Portretu, Lodz, Poland, Théo-Mario Coppola 2016

The paintings of Karine Hoffman invoke the confrontation of the time of intimacy and the story of her family. The translation of the feeling is developed at the periphery of the main action. Both dimensions combine themselves around the action in immersive paintings in which we can feel the unease caused by the strangeness. The night covers everything. The abandoned scenes intrigued. The description of the apart is for Karine Hoffman, the resolution of an impossible representation. Where the look can stare, disappeared, then, the possibility of a passage. The border, rich of clues, is delivering in a more humble and essential way, the complex alchemy of emotions. We are going through a place from every angle, and, we are giving a glance to what surrounds us. Free not to stay on the site of the action, we are remembering the enigmatic details of a before and an after, as a narrative ellipse. Karine Hoffman gives to these ellipses a unique depth.

The translation is above all a passage from one condition to the other. The objects are helping us to create the transformation of time. Sometimes lost and restless, at the opposite of the action, we are experiencing the margin and these audacious energies.

Paris, octobre 28 th , 2016, Théo-Mario Coppola
Translated by Aude Verbrugge

 

 


Extrait du texte "in translation", Pracownia Portretu, Lodz, Poland, par Théo-Mario Coppola 2016


Les peintures de Karine Hoffman évoquent la confrontation du temps de l’intime et de l’histoire de sa famille. La traduction du sentiment se développe à la périphérie de l’action principale. Ces deux dimensions se conjuguent aux alentours de l’action dans des peintures immersives où l’on ressent le malaise provoqué par l’étrangeté. La nuit embrasse tout. Les scènes abandonnées intriguent. La description de l’à-côté est pour Karine Hoffman la résolution de l’impossibilité de la représentation. Là où le regard peut se fixer, disparaît alors la possibilité du passage. La bordure, riche d’indices, livre dans une forme plus humble et essentielle, l’alchimie complexe des émotions. Nous traversons un lieu de part en part, et, nous lançons un regard furtif à ce qui nous entoure. Libre de ne pas rester sur le lieu de l’action, nous retenons les détails énigmatiques d’un avant ou d’un après, c’est-à-dire d’une ellipse narrative. Karine Hoffman donne à ces ellipses une épaisseur singulière.

La traduction est avant tout un passage d’un état à un autre. Les objets nous aident à construire la transformation du temps. Parfois perdus ou intranquilles, à rebours des moteurs de l’action, nous faisons l’expérience de la marge et de ses énergies audacieuses.


Paris, le 28 octobre 2016, Théo-Mario Coppola

 

Returning to Chelmno Forest
 
Text by Marc Molk 2015


Poland is an almost imaginary country.

A spate of anecdotes have been told about the mysticism of its inhabitants, about their fanatical Catholicism and their resistance to the freezing cold.  Paris is a city of the south. It has its beaches, its fêtes and, several times a year, crowds of bare chests descending the Grands Boulevards. It’s a far cry from the teeming megalopolis to the Polish Creuse. Yet history has played the go-between. Europe is like origami. Each peninsula folds in on itself, and when unfolded inevitably lies belly down on some far-flung land. Bavaria back to back with Macedonia. Sweden top to tail with Andalusia when the fold runs through Denmark. Half of Crimea dancing hip to hip with Sussex, if one follows the crease traced by the Danube. It was this game that won us Karine Hoffman.

Her grandfather stood in lieu of her father. Indeed she took his name. It’s a passably mysterious and utterly melancholy story. To begin at the beginning: on the eve of the Second World War, Samuel Hoffman, a member of the Bund, crosses the Polish countryside fleeing persecution. To survive he hides in barns, in ditches, in the middle of fields, on the fringes of forests. He tries his best to melt into the landscape. He is finally arrested in 1944 and deported to Auschwitz. Though he would survive, his family would not. In the camps, rumours circulate among prisoners about deadly forests at the border which swallow up walkers. They have pretty names or are named after the village they encircle.

After the war, Samuel meets Fella, who also survived. She had fled by sleigh from the same blood-soaked Poland to the Ural Mountains. Stalinism succeeds Nazism. In 1958 the couple decide to go into exile in France. They live in Paris. Aside from Dadouche – young Karine’s affectionate nickname for her grandfather – and Fella and their four children, there’s no one. No cousins, no uncles, no aunts.

The village of Chelmno (Kulmhof in German) is located about 70 kilometres north-west of Lodz on the banks of the Ner, a tributary of the River Warta in western central Poland. When it isn’t the tramping ground of Einsatzgruppen – mobile execution units – Chelmno Forest is a lovely, peaceful pinewood. It’s a pleasant place to take a stroll; the tracks are dry and the grass is green: an intense, English, chlorophyll green. And yet it is true that one can feel alone, pushing through the undergrowth on rainy late afternoons, as if happened upon by an atmosphere of disarray.

Karine has never been to Poland.

So one may imagine her surprise when Dadouche looked at one of her paintings and recognized, plain as day, two, three, then several bends, embankments and half-clearings from Chelmno Forest. For a second it had been a painting about something else, something more cheerful. But jollity immediately gave way to the zigzags of the black brush. Some subdued pink here, some fluorescent yellow there, occasionally a dash of inflammable orange: all of them battling in a green and black scene. In these deserted spaces, several geometric figures appear. Karine thought what she was doing was abstract, before eventually conceding that these impenetrable objects were in fact headstones. They lean on each other, dense, old and pure, like in ancient, over-fed cemeteries. Inevitably, necessarily, they are also anonymous. None of us knows the names of the ghost wood’s dead.

Here’s how to kill your guests in a forest without spoiling any munitions: line them up in single file next to the ditch they themselves have just dug, ignore the jeremiads, and fire a single shot directly at the line. The next in turn fill up the hole and dig the next one. It’s so simple. Proceed methodically, and the impossible becomes possible.

In this forest, the branches and bright yellow tips of a giant star, too big to fit onto the canvas, are overlaid like rectilinear tracks on the surface of the ground. The Maghen Dawid forms a secret hexagram visible only from the sky. Close by, the rooms of abandoned homes in the neighbouring village also house headstones. They look like paintings stripped of their subject. Everything has been taken. All that remains are a few ceiling lights, unmade beds and parallelepipeds. Headstones again.

In the Jewish tradition, it is customary to lay a stone on a tomb after collecting one’s thoughts. Karine celebrates Christmas and admires the figure of Christ. She feels completely torn when she and Dadouche embrace. She laments the kin who did not survive. In her painting she is forever laying stones in Chelmno Forest.



Marc Molk


 

HAUNTINGS and LANDSCAPES


The Image:  Theatre of Survivals

 

TEXT BY AMELIE ADAMO


What is a haunting, a ghost – a dibbouk? It is something or somebody that resides in our home, that always returns, that survives everything, reappears here and there, and pronounces a truth about origins.
It is something or somebody one cannot forget. But that cannot be clearly recognized.

Georges Didi-Huberman, The Surviving Image






Whether they are enclosed spaces or exteriors, the places Karine Hoffman paints are interior landscapes peopled by surviving memories. Ghost memories that return transformed, almost as in dream or reminiscence: that is to say, made up of disparate fragments, of paradoxes, of afterthoughts and thoughts repressed, somewhere between truth and reconstruction, identification and alteration, order and chaos, absence and presence, past and present. A complexity of the image similar to that inherent in the concept of “survival” defined by Aby Warburg, according to which the world of forms obeys a “ghostly”, “psychic” and “symptomatic” model.

Karine Hoffman’s painting is the theatre of these complex survivals. At the origin of her work is a real memory, directly perceived or filtered, and the artist using photographs as her basic material or drawing inspiration from tales told by her grandparents. But this reality is staged in a heterogeneous setting in which day and night unrealistically coexist, in which improbable light seems to spring out from within objects, in which emptiness works against architecture, inside and outside interpenetrate, space emerges in an ambiguous process of closings and openings, and the remanence of classical landscapes hybridizes with abstract forms. Through this ambivalence, Karine Hoffman’s painting invents a fiction in which the reality of a personal story opens up to the mysterious and reveals what is repressed in universal memories.

The paintings are a pathway leading to a collective unconscious peopled by ghosts. The spectre of the Shoah survives. A memory passed down by the artist’s grandparents, by whom she was raised. Her grandfather, deported to Auschwitz, was the only member of his family to survive: the others were shot by the Nazis in a Polish forest. These notable absences, and the empty space they left behind, inhabit her works. They remain. Like an implied presence that cannot be clearly identified. Unnameable. Impalpable. A haunting presence that one cannot forget and which always returns.

In the series Paysages électriques, a luminous structure traverses the paintings, disturbing the scene. This luminous form can be taken as a surviving, ghostly presence. And it is perhaps these same spectres that finally, imperceptibly emerge on the surface of the last few paintings in the series Absents. These closed interiors echo the apartment belonging to the artist’s grandparents. Greys vibrate with luminous yellows in a space invaded and irradiated by fluid, incandescent forms. In these mirror-interiors we stare into the void, and the void stares back at us. A meditative, silent, grisaille void. A void that makes the tremblings of time vibrate within us. Like music, outside, connecting us with the angels, inside.


Amélie Adamo

 



 

Text by Yannick Courbès,Curator Mumba, Tourcoing 2013

 

In the Orient, an inscription or monument that is impossible to decipher
is considered to contain the sign of hidden treasure.

Victor Hugo"Journal de ce que j’apprends chaque jour"16 September 1846






I Remember that image …

I remember that image, the one that teased me as soon as I saw it. I knew I had seen it somewhere before, and yet, despite that, it remains unfamiliar. I think I recognize it; I think I can put my finger on it. And yet …

This is where many of the essential elements of Karine Hoffman’s paintings lie. It is the iconoclastic project par excellence: one that destroys our visions, our perceptions and even our intuitions before reuniting us with them again. In this way she tries to “draw out the light from the painting”. That was the first thing she said in her studio as we looked at the first painting of hers I would see. An absurd and vain project for the scientist; for the artist, a significant, decisive project, or rather an intentional design. Instead of recycling, she distorts – not the object – but the gaze. Our gaze.

And so we let ourselves wander through her ghostly landscapes and environments. And then we stumble upon, stop at, a geometric form, a kind of luminous, sparkling quadrilateral. An object that looks like a tent, like an isolated, abstract shed, like a plank, a window or a lid that opens or seems to open onto a blinding, uncertain elsewhere. As well as affirming and expressing the space, which is erected on a topology of vanishing lines and indicial shapes and surfaces, this object is reassuring. It is the point on which our eye rests, for all around is nothing but tempest, muffled thunderstorm, the courageous despair and valiant distress of the landscape and the painting. An electric spectacle, in short.

Perhaps I’m exaggerating the poignancy of Karine Hoffman’s landscapes. A canvas, as we know, is always a receptacle of fictional entities that eventually escape the story proper. In the end, though, her electric landscapes appear as mirrors or surfaces onto which we project our own story, the one we too can invent. And when I say poignancy, I also mean struggle with the painting, a struggle that averts its gaze from the recognizable object, leaving behind only brushstrokes and tangled, superimposed – sometimes even erased, rubbed-out – colour. This way, the artist deliberately loses herself in her painting. Could she be seeking fusion in fragmentation? Fusion through and in the landscape; fragmentation through the indicial object and the painting itself? There is, then, a terrible struggle in and of the painting, one which, as Diderot suggests (Salon, 1767), “inspires a feeling of terror [though it] is conducive to the sublime”. Karine Hoffman thereby navigates between the ideal and the imperative of the classical, between concern for rigorous composition and the sense perception of the landscape and her own abstraction.



Yannick Courbès
Deputy Curator at MUBa Eugène Leroy
Exhibition Curator


 

Other texts.....Click to read

Exit, Hiver 2010

l'art qui montre la forêt