„Her language is as authentic as her issues.“
Peter Patzak about pictures by Astrid Hofstätter
Longing rebels against intransigence and soft change against static presentation: against the seemingly adamant.
On the stretcher-frame illusion, another smaller painted picture is mounted as if it were an upended part of the triptych: something completely new to what the eye has been used to. The empty stretcher frame of the triptych leaves the background on which the stretcher is hung visible. The painted picture dominates the altar offering, which can also serve as a support for objects. Small sculptures, appliqués, guardians of the way can often be found here: participating in the mission, the shape, the packet of associations.
And then the picture. The event pictures. The palette: acrylic, charcoal, ink pencil, sand, collage. An apocalyptic habitat with colours sourced from stone-age caves. A veritable fissured structure. Martian soil, the earth a war planet and the sky as a possible alternative concept.
A game with recoursing and anticipatory anachro-nisms. Skirts with bare feet, rosettes, soldiers, muskets, fabric flowers, blossoms, gauze bandages, gas masks, weaponry, embryos, classic geometry, time loops and always heads with the unbroken hint of life. In the past, five centuries ago in the Netherlands, one would have simply said: heaven, hell and deluge.
Abstract? No. A graphic stroke in the painting: the horizon or just a blue stripe? Pink as a signal that it could continue somewhere, at some time. If it does, it will.
A measurement with mysterious space- and time-machines that try to overturn the world. Time weapons: someone is fighting back against transience with enigmatic allegories. Then again in a landscape with a haptic embrasure: a handle. Can one use it to open the window shutter on the space-time axis? The hope-lessness is contradicted. There are passageways, space- and time-openings: the time windows with their delicate, conciliatory humour.
Perhaps it is also frightening: a crocodile approaches an immobile trio of people. Two rose pictures surround a playing card: the king of hearts. A window where it doesn‘t belong promises a different life.
A loop drawn with charcoal: once as a vulva, once as a head, once as a time loop. The upper body of a female figure who is planted in the landscape. A man with a gas mask, two puzzle pieces of a panda bear in a whirlwind. The pink landscape, as vulnerable as skin.
Between the apocalyptic one can feel the pictorial play with materials and shapes: reptiles, toads, an animal head from the sandy sea bottom with a human child in rompers. Crabs on the way out of the landscape colours. The earth in a time loop. The circle in the head and in the inhospitable world history. It is about survival and a longing for a better world. About the struggle between the ideal and reality.
Peter Patzak, 2020
CARL AIGNER – EXTENSIVE PAINTING
Notes on the image world of Astrid Hofstätter
The pictorial narrative unfolds in the recognition of the tension fields of visibility and invisibility, materiality and immateriality (idea), absence and presence, image time and image space. But it is always an act of addition, expansion, extensification – not a reproduction of what has been seen – in the sense of the real: the picture as a third place of perceptibility, thus a configuration of the temporality of the real and the imaginary.
In the modern era, the aim was to expand pictures in the form of collages, appliqués, realities as a reference to reality, thus making them more „real“. Postmodernism turns the picture concept into a concept of endless citation, in and with which the boundaries be-tween image and non-image become blurred and amalgamated. The procedure of “digitage” (digital image merging) causes every antagonism between the real and the pictorial to disappear: the world becomes a total picture and vice versa. It is only in and with the artistic assertion of the image as a genuine world-image that the pictorial gains its aesthetic and material autonomy. It is the concrete beingness of the picture that makes it perceptible and experienceable as something additional and constitutes seeing as recognition.
Beingness of the picture
With its unique framing, a picture series begun in 2016 highlights much of what has just been outlined regarding the work of Astrid Hofstätter. The additional mounting of the actual picture on a larger wooden frame results in a constructional expansion into a pictorial opening and opens a view into the imaginary. In its expansion beyond the immediate picture format, the frame as a material picture boundary becomes a limitless image (space). In this way, the picture is no longer a window to the world, but a world in itself. This is accentuated, for example, by the assembly of various everyday objects on the edge of the canvas pictures, which grow almost organically over the canvases. The associated transformation of the picture into an object has since modern times been a further extensive reformulation of the picture concept.
What seems to be merely a formal frame gesture corresponds to many picture titles and forms the link to the semantic image space. The themes addressed such as: time, space, life, earth and matter refer to existential questions as a “being thrown into the world” – in the artist’s existential formulation. The associated comprehension of the picture as something existential expresses itself in the palpable desire for the haptic-sensory, by which many works are distinguished as well as in the title-themes that move between „Heaven and Earth“. It is about the question of survival as well as womanhood, it is about war as well as hope, love and longing for harmony.
Time and temporality
A constantly recurring theme is the momentum of time, which is strongly and quasi archaeologically linked to evolutionary (survival) questions when replicated with images and objects (petrified shells). Time as primeval time plays a role here as well as escape from time when “time windows” are suggested as a way of overcoming the present and time machines are imagined for time travel. Here – often with humour and romanticism -– there is a longing for otherness, freedom and distance: symbolized by the unicorn, bird or fish as a symbol of our origins in water. Time is also indicated above all in the landscape worlds out of which the figurations and objects virtually grow or in which they are seeded. The expressive-lyrical colourings evoke primeval worlds and thereby primordial matter as a time memory of nature. The artist has titled one work “Neo-Feudal”, in which nuclear reactors are confronted with palm idyll. Astrid Hofstätter is concerned with nothing less than the condition humain: Who are we? Why are we? What do we want to be? Suddenly, in the face of our high-tech worlds, our bio- and genetic-technologies, Martin Heidegger and Jean Paul Sartre‘s philosophy of being becomes explosive again. It is no coincidence that nature is a recurring aspect of her picture universes; they stand for creation and thus infinity as preserved time. And nature is also the „principle of hope“ (Ernst Bloch) in the artist‘s work.
The many stories in the subject of the picture narrative seem like fragmentary notes, shards of life that pictorially emerge in the interlocking of the graphic and the painterly, which illustrates how the graphic is essential for her painting. The former creates the figurative narratives, while painting situates the atmospheric. In the interplay of the two, the pictorial scenario develops, which is achieved both conceptually and in an associative-spontaneous manner. Image-in-image strategies play a role in the picture choreographies, as does the implementation of the „golden ratio“ with its visual harmony or the tearing open of the picture space through colour contrasts or applied objects. Many compositions appear as „terribly beautiful“, often like time-ending and end-time imaginations. With regard to the impact of literature, Franz Kafka once wrote: “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea in us”. This applies equally to works of art.
Carl Aigner, 2020
Astrid Hofstätter’s pictures testify above all to a great pleasure in narrative, in inventing and telling stories.
Last but not least they express the artist’s zest for life, her humour and a certain playfulness or rather lightness, which stems from the fact that she for example experiences crises as a necessity that makes change and further development possible.
In her exhibition “Werte und Märkte” (“Values and Markets”) she criticizes current economic structures that only serve to maximize profits, in which other values such as humanity and solidarity inevitably fall by the wayside.
Alexandra Schantl, 2009
Astrid Hofstätter’s pictures are a mixture of painting, drawing and collage. An expressive characteristic style along with schematised drawings; its own world of forms is linked with found objects from everyday life and popular culture.
Hofstätter’s topics include the expression of sexuality, the tension between matter and spirituality, the courage to embark on one’s own path and the political: collective change processes, globalization, the clash of different religions and criticism of economic structures, which without humanity and solidarity only result in the maximization of financial profit.
“The subject of time, the finiteness of existence, the great pivotal points of life, birth and death, which the artist consciously or unconsciously thinks through, are the focus of Astrid Hofstätter’s symbolic language. Her pictures seem to first arise in an inner territory from a collection of impressions, experiences, moments, feelings and thoughts before she catapults them onto paper or canvas. One is inclined to ask: what else should they come from? Yet the artist manages to develop an almost spiritual ease and relaxation, to subsume this experience in an aesthetic, poetic and individual system of symbols.
Connections to the art of children, to art from the early days of human history, to myth already traced by classical modernism, these are just as visible in Astrid Hofstätter’s work, as are concentrated female eros.”
Wolfgang Denk (Katalog 2007)
“There are various relationships of tension superimposed on one another that define Astrid Hofstätter’s pictures. They evoke scurrility, mysteriousness and absurdity. The aforementioned tension relationship occurs between real things and a spiritual world. From a formal point of view, a great tension exists between spontaneously placed painterly elements alongside scribble-like strokes and representational objects often presented in small ordered series. Free, abstract traces of colour stand in contrast to geometrized lines suggesting space.”
Sonja Traar (Katalog 2007)
“The white sheet of paper – whereby she leaves a generous amount of white space free – is not just an image carrier but a challenge that Astrid Hofstätter confronts anew in every picture with confidence and great artistic energy.”
Angelica Bäumer (Kulturzeitschrift „morgen“ 1999)
What Hofstätter visualises cannot be determined by a fixed artistic style.
Is it then a question of graphic painting or painterly drawing? And that in addition is seconded by collaging.”
Burghart Schmidt (Katalog 1998)