At Sophienholm with Flemming Hoff

January 27, 2019 · 10 min read

We received an invitation from Flemming Hoff to visit him at Sophienholm, where he and eight other artists were participating in an exhibition called “Seeing the unseen”. All artists are very important to us, so we did not hesitate to accept the invitation to see his artworks and of course to have an opportunity to talk personally about the act of creation. Flemming has six wonderful paintings represented at Sophienholm.

Previously, we have been familiar with Flemming’s artworks but only by the internet and we were very curious to find out much more about him and see if we can make inquiries about his masterpieces after seeing them in real life. And so, we went to the meeting with great curiosity and high expectations.

It was a cold but beautiful November day in Sophienholm and we were thrilled by the romantic view of every sight of the magical place. The small palace was looking down at a picturesque lake, it was like a pearl on the tiara, situated on a steep hill it was adorning the area around. A very silent, cool and romantic district with its own atmosphere. If not a noise from the cars passing by, it could make an impression of a place where the time has stopped.

We were lucky to admire a breathtaking view – white little palaces with cozy restaurants, old stables, lake and gorgeous golden autumn robe that covered all the trees in the area! 

Inside the buildings, the typical atmosphere of an old room adapted for modern purposes prevailed. Unfortunately, the past beauty of the buildings could be noticeable only in the remains of frescoes over the doors, in the corners of rooms, plafonds, the view behind the windows, and one lonely and old wooden bench which sagged already next to the window. It was quiet inside; just the sound of the creaking floor was breaking the silence from time to time. Nobody was there besides the cashier. White empty room’s walls were specially designed for hanging pictures on them. Flemming was not there yet, but we decided not to wait and went on the sightseeing ourselves.

Flemming Hoff descends from the flow of American painters which is called field painting. The most famous artist in that flow is Mark Rothko. In our gallery, we have other artists who have been also inspired by the direction mentioned above: Sebastian Skoczylas for example. This is an abstract way of painting based on stripes and colors. The aim of the artist is to influence our perceptions, create an eye illusion by manipulating the surface’s structure and the combination of colors. The painting is derived from the landscape’s pictures that are seen (mostly) in the horizontal layout of the stripes. Read more about that direction: sensualism.

In the second room we entered, we have found three large canvases done by Flemming Hoff. It was a series of pictures, created as a set of shiny black, and bright yellow (commonly called “lemon”) paintings. The artist contrasted the black glossy surfaces of the edges with the center of the image. The center of the canvas represents a square made of a black background and mentioned above “lemon” yellow colors. However, the combination of colors is not even or perfectly smooth, the yellow color is also laid into the stripes. The scoured edges of the square give a viewer an impression of motion, lightness or the feeling of a parchment that has been applied on the edges.

Then the author intentionally removes the yellow color by special tools and create horizontal scratches and an impression of the abrasion. This is how the method of illusion is usually created.

The second canvas we saw, reminded us of an antique door… a mysterious door consisting of two closed wings. The canvas is made in the soot colors. Thanks to the artist’s efforts, painting has been scratched, polished and such manipulations outlined the three-dimensional illusion that was present in the painting. His work also shows his passion for ascetic colors and creation of impressions through the structure and its type of the surface. The color issue is rather on the second place. Black glossy background creates a frame for the central stripe, which is made of a black matte paint.

The third canvas from the series, in some ways, was a repetition of the first one. It is because the artist used the same colors, composition but a little different direction and manner of the way the tools were used. This time it provoked an illusion of motion, spin. This trick is noticeable quite well when you can admire the canvas from a special angle. The painting was creating a feeling that the air was trapped between the yellow stripes and black background. For this reason, the first canvas in comparison to the last one gives an impression of a direction with more stable and linear mood.

To recognize the effects which the artist intended to represent in the paintings, you better to admire the pictures from a distance. As only from a distance, we can see how the surface of the images give the illusion of waves and creates a third dimension. But to understand a technique and “taste” all the “flavours” prepared by the artist, you should keep your nose few centimeters from the canvas.

Before seeing other paintings, Flemming came and we could enjoy his company for the rest of our tour. He is a nice and open-minded artist, very cheerful and easygoing. We found the contact immediately and started our conversation about the process of creation of his works right after we got acquainted. We were excited from the very first moment.

Flemming led us further and we saw another painting of his. It was a large canvas set in the space on the staircase. Our first impressions were both “Wow” and “Oh no!”. The artwork was nearly screaming, it was creating a kind of psychic space. Two shades of energetic red, two different temperatures of the same color, horizontal stripes and scratches – so many things were happening on the canvas! It was like if the painting was almost bursting the walls. The picture was, so to say, pressed in between the small walls of such a little area. It was creating an image of a beautiful woman with luscious forms put in a tight corset. “Move this canvas somewhere else so it can breathe and show its glory” – Were my thoughts. – As the color needs light and space”. Flemming did his artwork specifically for this exact space in Sophienholm, but probably his art is too energetic to be placed somewhere with so little space. It deserves to have a larger room.

The picture consists of three vertical stripes, but you can actually turn it 90 degrees and have a new picture with perfect horizontal stripes. It consists of a main wide stripe made of a cold red color. Side stripes are slightly orange in their color, they are scratched on the edges in Flemming’s style. This artwork is the same as the previous works, because the impression of perspective is also present. Eyes search for familiar shapes and the brain interpret them in its own way.

Flemming Hoff told us he was painting this picture for several months as he was trying to reach the final effect in a perfect way. It is a very expressive work of art and the balance between the cold red and the warm red is amazing. I had the impression that the work is still unfinished as if it was missing the last touch. It is comparable to the listening of a loud symphony when the sound suddenly breaks down. Then the conductor raises up his arms, waits for silence to give a new command to the orchestra and continues the explosion of the music. The exact moment of silence when you follow the conductor’s hands, was an impression I got while looking at this painting.

The next two works we saw were placed on the base floor. One of them was more to my liking, the other became Thomas’s favorite. That first artwork, my favorite one, has a white background and black stripes, created with a technique of scratching off the black paint with the special tools. Thanks to these two colors the painting gave me an illusion of presence there a third color – grey. In some places the artist let the paint flows down in the thin black strips, which looks like commas or maybe the notes on the score. In several places, Flemming’s hand has created some wave collapses which resulted in a ripple effect. It reminded me of the process of record of the music. When I was looking at Flemming’s paintings a thought that Flemming loves music came to my head. Probably he listens to classic and dignified musical works. We surmised that he listens passionately during the act of creation and he confirmed our suppositions.

Flemming uses a variety of tools such as sandpaper, filler etc. to create scratches and smooth surfaces. He is using mostly large canvases, for example, the canvases in Sophienholm are 210 x 190 cm each.

Throughout Flemming’s paintings, you can see his love to work with just a few colors. He is very ascetic in colors. He creates his images using delicate scratches, but he repeats them until he gets the expected effect. He is using scuffings and scratches and different layers of paint. He is manipulating on the large surfaces. This gives the effect of space and perspective and the illusion of motion. His paintings are close to architecture works and more advantageously and beautifully look in the large rooms. Flemming’s works are ideal for modern apartments, offices, hotels or anywhere else where you have large clean surfaces.

The meeting with Flemming continued during a fast lunch together in a pleasant atmosphere of talks about the art market and the process of creation of his paintings. Flemming shared with us his art and ways of getting inspiration and we were very honored to be in his company and enriched ourselves with his stories.

I have to say that in our opinion, his works are distinguished by their magnificent quality and creative concept. He is a great artist and his loyalty to his own techniques and thoughts makes his paintings more complete and create a total harmony. What seems flat and boring on a phone screen, tablet or a monitor speaks out and gets almost hypnotizing when you see it in the real life.

Why is Flemming Hoff’s art important? Some may go so far that they will call it “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (tale written by Hans Christian Andersen). Is the comparison driven because people do not understand the importance of his works or the true message? I do not think so as everyone must choose their own experience and path of understanding. But it is a fact that even those, who do not know or don’t see the true message will be influenced by Flemming’s paintings.

Here we were talking a lot about forms, deep sense and other dimensions where are able to see in artworks only if we take our time and switch on our imagination. Want a bit more proof? Let’s digress from Flemming and consider a different example.

When we visit the DR Concert Hall in DR City, we walk into the hallways with the gray concrete walls and see their irregular grooves and patterns. The French architect Jean Nouvel deliberately chose such a specific type of concrete and, not least, created by it the game of the material we can find in the raw and bare concrete walls. But by breathing the life into this dull material, the walls got transformed and began to affect us. When you cross these walls daily, you may not want to think about the game the concrete creates, but you will unconsciously detect familiar marks from at least the last passage and the walls will display their presence and give you the feeling of safety. If Jean Nouvel used full-sided and smooth white painted walls without the slightest structure, we would feel completely different. There would be no focal points and calm patterns, but just the big white surfaces that would make us feel unsafe and give a sense of emptiness.

We are always influenced by all the visual impetus and especially those we learn to recognize, or those we are familiar with. Flemming Hoff’s impressive formats can seem too big at first glance, but when we stop, get closer in order to understand and identify the technique and experience all the patterns and colors, afterwards, we step back and look at the whole picture again, the shapes will suddenly be present, and now we are able to find movements on the canvas where recently there was only a still surface and no figures, just chaos we couldn’t understand before. So, the more we consider the big artworks, the more depth we find and the more joy they give us.

Returning back to the Flemming’s works, I would dare to say they are, in fact, a beautiful picture of our everyday life and they represent a very real art of the present time, where everything is going too well, and we’d rather let ourselves be affected by this life or just flow along with it, rather than immerse ourselves in the world of perfect and meticulous. Rembrandt, Lautrec, and all the other great artists added fewer and fewer to their works, simply because the time is only for short impressions, text messages consisting of only a few words and our constant hurry from A to B. Here, in this modern chaos and epo-hit rate, Flemming’s works of art are quiet and as wonderful poems give us peace when we read them.

I hope, you, dear reader will like what I wrote, and it will be a great experience for you. Generally, we can only recommend you take the tour to Sophienholm and enjoy both the wonderful art and of course the breathtaking nature of the place around.

– Beata Piechocka. Gallery BeArte

About the Author:

I am a co-owner of BeArte Gallery, art marketspace based in Denmark. I have an art education and I paint myself. I am also a part-time paint teacher for artists amateurs. Communing with art and contact with the artists is what moves me in life. Without art, my life would be devoid of emotions, higher meanings. I believe that thanks to Art, each of us has a chance to touch an absolute.

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