Uddannelse / Education
Kunstakademiet i København, arkitektafd. / Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, dpt. of architecture
Autodidakt som billedkunstner / self-taught as painter

Udstillinger / Exhibitions
Kommende Udstillinger / Upcoming
Ikke fastlagt endnu.

Gruppeudstillinger / Group exhibitions
Gruppeudstillingen SEEING THE UNSEEN med kuratering / Sophienholm, Lyngby / 4.nov.2017 - 7. jan.2018
Se links:

STILL POINT / PAKHUSgalleriet, Nykøbing Sj. / 24.sept. - 22.okt.2016 Se link: https://odsherred.ddbcms.dk/arrangementer/udstilling/still-point-turning-world

’Bokkunst’ / Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall, Arendal, Norge / 3.sept. - 23.okt.2016

Bakkehusmuseet, ’Ind i Skabet - Artist Books’, 2015

Nivaagaards Malerisamling, ’Ud af Skabet - Artist Books’, 2014

’Lige i Skabet - Artists Books’, Svends Bibliotek, Classensgade, 2014

’On Site’, Pakhuset, Nykøbing Sj., 2012, (inkl. kuratering)

’Roomservice’, Gammelgård, Herlev, 2011, (inkl. kuratering)

’Deformities of Speed’, Sophienholm, Lyngby, 2009 (inkl. kuratering sammen med Anna Odell)

Agora Gallery, New York, 2009 – se link: www.agora-gallery.com

Abstrakt 1E, Co-Lab, København, 2007

Roskilde Kunstforenings censurerede udstilling 2004

Vestsjællands Amts censurerede udstilling 2004

Hvidovre Biblioteks censurerede udstilling 2004

Separatudstillinger / Solo exhibitions
’Black-Color’, INTHEGALLERY, København 2015, se link: inthegallery.com

Brøndby Kunstforening, Kulturhuset Kilden, 2014

Gladsaxe Kunstforening, Thorasminde, 2012

Amos Eno Gallery, New York 2007

Støberihallen, Hillerød, 2005

Birkerød Rådhus, 2005

Stadsbiblioteket i Lyngby, 2005

Næsseslottet, Holte, 2004

Galleri Nybro, København, 2003

Lyngby Kunstforening 2002
Tekster / Texts
Seeing the Unseen
Katalogtekst af Julie Damgaard, 2017:

Flemming Hoff’s værker vægrer sig ved kunsthistoriske refleksioner og lange, teoretiserende analyser. Det er værker, der qua en særlig materialitet taler til sanserne og kalder på berøring og duft. Værker der beror på fornemmelser, og som først synes at lide overlast, når de pakkes ind i ord.
Hans seneste serie malerier er fysisk betragtet større end hvad et almindeligt menneske kan favne, og som beskuer forsvinder man nemt ’ind i dem’. De er opbygget af monokrome farvefelter lagt lag-på-lag på lærredet. De geometriske former og enkle kompositioner afslører et slægtskab med amerikanske colour field malere som Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still og Barnett Newman, men paletten er mere grafisk-asketisk og Hoff’s brug af tandspartel efterlader grid-agtige spor i de øverste farveflader, hvorved dybereliggende lag træder frem og ’forstyrrer’ den meditative orden. Mørke skygger danser under en citrongul, rød eller hvid overflade, rejser sig som elegiske klangfarver for i næste nu at tone ud. Hvid, analog ’støj’ stiger og falder i styrke. Dråber af maling løber stedvis ned af lærredet og trækker strimer efter sig.
De mange på hinanden virkende lag olie- og akrylmaling skaber fundamentet for vibrerende, kaleidoskopiske strukturer, der giver maleriets nonfigurative udtryk en særlig spænding. Værkerne taler deres eget stille sprog, som pirrer beskuerens nysgerrighed.
Flemming Hoff er autodidakt som billedkunstner. Han har en fortid som arkitekt, og det kan måske være en del af forklaringen på den stoflighed og materialitet, man oplever i hans værker.

The Cloud Chamber

'The Cloud Chamber'
Essay by Ferdinand Ahm Krag
'Deformities of Speed', Sophienholm 2009

A story is told about Glenn Gould. He is at home at the piano, playing Bach’s fugues, which he knows inside out. He can play them all, but they don’t mean anything to him. He doesn’t really understand them, he just plays them. Whilst he’s playing, the man who cleans for him enters the house and switches on the vacuum cleaner. Gould continues playing even though he can no longer hear the music. And then, in the midst of the noise from the vacuum cleaner, he suddenly understands Bach’s fugues. His fingers dance soundlessly over the keys, and in this musical absence he suddenly sees the music: he understands that the fugues are simply about the movement of his fingers across the keyboard. This was in Bach’s mind when he composed the fugues: they didn’t originate from a transcendental idea, and were perhaps merely the incarnation of a conceptual form or mode. Glenn Gould sees the music. It is interesting that he doesn’t really understand the music till its aural dimension is removed, when his attention is drawn to the silent work of the fingers. It is also worth noting that he receives this epiphany because of a chance occurrence, a banal everyday disturbance. A vacuum cleaner turns him into a Seer, for he sees something, which is not normally considered visible.
Perhaps this is an over-interpretation of the anecdote. But let us take the liberty to go further, viewing the anecdote as exemplary and significant, and try to draw some conclusions on this basis. Here goes. The fact that the understanding of music may be revealed through another channel than its primary sense (hearing, the aural) must imply that the meaning conveyed by music is an intimation of something more comprehensive and fundamental than the merely aural. If Glenn Gould’s understanding of Bach really holds water, the various senses shouldn’t be regarded as pertaining to isolated areas of reality. But in this case their productive mutual supplementation is not synaesthetic. Synaesthesia can be explained neuro-biologically, and is probably best described as a hallucinated and basically fantastic associative landslide in perceptual experience. In order to explain how, in the case of ‘Glen-Gould-plays-Bach-to-the-sound-of-a-vacuum-cleaner’, the change from hearing to seeing may bring about an epiphany, it may be necessary to regard the senses as windows or perceptual funnels brilliantly supplementing each other, with each of them directed towards and leading to the same level of reality. Then what Bach’s music expresses is in some sense not ‘only’ music, but neither is it transcendental or spiritual. What is this level? What is this plane or element which appears in a vision as something aural, but in itself corresponds to neither the visible nor the aural? What is it that is manifested to Glen Gould through these windows or perceptual funnels if not a fluctuating foundation of naked space-time? Are the coordinates of time and space stripped and exposed to our senses for one frozen second in this magical moment of insight conjured up by the noise from a vacuum cleaner? We are no doubt taking the anecdote further than it can bear; but my purpose is to bring to attention the perception of what lies between the provinces of the individual senses and makes them overlap. If we are to enter this profound and naked region we must be responsive to all our senses and surrender ourselves to chance.

It may seem strange to begin a text on the subject of painting with a story about a musician. It is undoubtedly true that painting deals with problems associated with ‘sight’ ‘the visible’ and ‘having a vision’, but this is not only the case with painting and the other visual art forms. The ‘meaning’ of music may indeed manifest itself as a visible object, just as the visible may reveal itself as a musical structure. L'étoile a pleuré rose au coeur de tes oreilles (The star has wept rose in the heart of your ears), Rimbaud wrote in his symbolist poem ‘Vowels’, about the origin of phonemes. We must listen to the vision just as we must envision what we hear. Through perceptual crossovers or inter-sensory perceptions the traditional modes of sensation are broken open. As far as I can see, the abstract mode consists of a movement by which the outer garments of objects and of consciousness are removed to reveal the inner reality, and the foundation of consciousness in naked space-time becomes manifest. It seems completely futile to understand the abstract as a transcendental thrust towards the kingdom of the ideal in the beyond. An artist has to risk chaos as often as he ventures into new territory. Abstract art has become so tame precisely because it is so tidy, so precise, so well ordered by academic convention. […] Indeed, what we may need could be a new “mess”. Perhaps it is fear of a mess that we are so afraid of, any reference to nature. Thus wrote the Austrian art critic Anton Ehrenzweig at the start of the 60s. Each new epoch needs a new mess, a new dis-order. Find out how the mess should look today.

It is a strange but common misconception that in painting the dimension of time is subordinate. Even a chance glance or a glimpsed vision, however momentary, constitutes a process in time. It is thus misleading to talk of temporally based media, as if the dimension of time was only relevant for film, video, performance or live pictures. Because of the ordered succession of words it seems obvious that a linguistic argument or a narrative should require a certain amount of time to make its impact. But the same applies to an object or any other visible thing. Visualization flows. It is made up of rays and particles and is altogether so massive and forceful that, reasonably enough, our consciousness is organized in such a way that it perceives a little at a time and with changing focus. We do not see the contours of an object at exactly the same time as its colour. We do not perceive an object’s material qualities at exactly the same time as its position in relation to other objects. These various aspects of the object make their appearance in an orderly progression in which the various perceptions supplement and support each other in an integrative process of cognition, which assumes ever-higher degrees of complexity. Sight is subject to different tempi, and painting must necessarily thematize this even if it is not explicit from a pictorial point of view. However, the temporal aspect of a linguistic argument is different from that of a visual process. It is not the same temporality that is manifested in a musical composition, in a train-ride through town, an evolutionary process, the beat of a wing, the reflex of a muscle, the growth of a plant or the news of terrorist activities disseminated by global media. These are very different processes and temporalities, which nevertheless cut across each other in the heterogeneous chaos of chance events, as any arbitrary section of our everyday experience will demonstrate. That we can perceive these different tempi may be owing to a certain elasticity in our perception of time, which enables it to expand and contract, to explode and fill enormous spaces and interminable expanses, as in the psychedelic experience. But it can also taper to a point and become as penetrating, metric and intense as in an anxiety attack. The temporal nature of consciousness folds into the temporality of objects, makes its home with them, in order to understand the essence of things, how time runs through both organic and inorganic matter.

In general discussions of painting it will commonly be said that a media-specific approach is needed before anything meaningful can be said on the subject. This is partly true. It seems futile to discuss painting, which is about painting (whatever it might mean to say that painting deals with itself). But what is of interest is not the ‘project’ or ‘concept’ where the medium is seen as subordinate to the artist’s general strategy of freely investigating different media in order to discover which one best communicates the ‘idea’ or ‘project’. What is interesting is not the project or the painting itself but the way in which human consciousness functions, how this way of functioning may be revealed in a medium, leaving visible traces in this medium like the tracks of particles in a cloud chamber. The model for artwork is thus the cloud chamber, as used in physics to render visible the movements of nuclear particles. It consists of a container filled with air, hydrogen or helium and saturated with aqueous vapour. It has a piston at the bottom and a window at the top. If the air is expanded by suddenly lowering the piston the result is a super-saturation of the aqueous vapour, which will then tend to condense, forming little visible drops (fog). The invisible trace of an ionizing particle, such as an alpha particle, will stimulate the formation of drops, thereby making the track of the particle visible so that it can be photographed before the drops dissolve again. Thus when a particle passes through the gas, distinct condensation trails appear. The medium, then, is the gas, and the container the art space. The camera taking the picture is art history. What the nuclear particle represents in this analogy I will leave open. It can be anything and everything. This model prescribes a concept of art, which does not picture the visible but instead renders a thing visible, renders movement visible. This may be of general or aesthetic interest, or of scientific significance, but it can also have powerful political meaning. It all depends on what is made visible and what order it belongs to.
Why use a model from physics? In order to point out that to continue talking in terms of abstract versus figurative, media-specific versus project-defined, narrative painting versus formal painting will no longer get us anywhere. These concepts are inbred in us like knee-jerk reactions, but today they have nothing to offer but a set of false alternatives, which confine the painting in an art-historical straitjacket. You might say that this is where painting belongs: in the straitjacket of art history; and none but conservative forces would seek to liberate a medium whose concepts are merely a set of useless tools which cannot help us to confront our own time. Painting does not matter. What is interesting is the pictorial in the widest sense of the word. If this is our interest and our point of departure then painting does indeed matter. Then the toolbox will be interesting and useful when we want to think about visuality as a whole. But if developing concepts based on painting cannot qualify us to view the contemporary visual world, then painting is like jazz and rock music. It may still stir people, but its time is really past, and now what? Then the medium can only be refined or specialised. Painters get to be like the patrons of exclusive whisky bars, cultivating their taste, or like people playing with model railways in the basement. It will have no historical importance.

The introduction to this text dealt with the relationship between perception and time seen as phenomena of consciousness. There was a special point in emphasizing painting as a temporally based medium, just as I wanted to demonstrate the need for a development of the concepts in this area. To conclude, I would like to turn the focus away from consciousness and look at some images with contemporary significance. The text below was written while the fear of a swine flu pandemic was at its peak, coincidentally, as we all know, with the financial crisis and the climate crisis. The text takes its point of departure in front pages from the Danish dailies Børsen and Information, and in pictures found on the net, which I found visually stimulating.
”The fear of flu may cancel the hope of growth”. These words appear in white print across the picture of a red-hot organic body presented dramatically against a cobalt blue background. What does this image really represent? An astrophysical object? A Mandelbrot fractal? The circumference of the body seems to dissolve into a mathematical powder of isolated pointillist pixels descending to infinity like red stardust. The pulsating red interior of the body is indeterminate like an unclear ultrasound scanning of an embryo. It must be the virus A H1N1. The swine flu. But the picture may also be an abstract representation of the glowing hope of growth, which the text asserts is now fading away. If so, the image must depict the swinish fever-stricken embryo of growth itself, with only the ghost of a hope of survival. Red-hot animistic capitalism: hope is dwindling, so blow on the embers, blow life into the system, stuff it with banknotes, TRY TO BELIEVE THAT THE CORPSE WILL BE ABLE TO WALK ON ITS OWN LEGS AGAIN. HOPE! We are meant to fear what this picture implies. But it is difficult not simply to enjoy the picture with all its fascinating multiple meanings. So I cut it out and hang it on the wall of my studio. The picture has no explanatory caption, merely an attribution in unimpressive script: ”PHOTO: VISUALS UNLIMITED”. Another front page that is graphically clearer, but nonetheless impressive and effective: On a glaring yellow background 'WARNING' is printed, and below, in huge black script,”H1N1”. The paragraph heading asks, ”Which is more dangerous: a flu pandemic or a global frenzy of panic?” Throughout the animal kingdom the combination of black and yellow signals danger, and everywhere the spectrum of colour pulsates hysterically. In the airports the crowds are scanned for fever using thermal cameras as they pass through security. The images on the screens resemble psychedelic dream visions of aural bodies in spiritual transit. But this is not how it is. When these lines are printed, H1N1 will probably have been forgotten. The system will be free of fever. What is interesting is not the swine flu in itself but the panic it generates, and which reproduces itself globally. The immune response of the globe erupts in images: Isn’t it in this kind of paranoia that today’s ‘systems’ and ‘cosmologies’ emerge as visible structures? While we are feverish we glimpse the visual surfaces and architectures that make up this very complex construction of fluctuating information systems.
To conclude, it seems pertinent to ask what all this has to do with panting. Everything! The motif is a landscape, a dystopian and technologically high-tension landscape where both people and nature are seen through thermal cameras, which register fever, foes and melting ice-masses. The painter must take up his position in the midst of this apocalyptic mess and investigate what invisible particles should be sent through the cloud chamber constituted by the painting to appear as streaks of condensation.


Essay af Ferdinand Ahm Krag
'Deformities of Speed', Sophienholm 2009

Der eksisterer denne historie om Glenn Gould. Han sidder i sit hjem og spiller ved klaveret. Han spiller Bachs fugaer. Han kender dem ud og ind. Og han kan spille dem alle. Men de har ingen betydning for ham. Han forstår dem egentlig ikke. Han spiller dem bare. Mens han spiller kommer manden der gør rent ind i huset og tænder for støvsugeren. Gould stopper ikke med at spille, selvom han nu ikke længere kan høre, hvad han selv spiller. Og så sker der det, at han i larmen fra støvsugeren pludselig forstår Bachs fugaer. Fingrene danser lydløst hen over tangenterne og i dette musikalske vakuum ser han pludselig musikken. Han forstår at fugaerne simpelthen handler om fingrenes skiftende fysiske placering henover tangenterne. Og det var dét Bach havde i tankerne, da han skrev dem. Fugaerne var ikke skrevet ud fra en transcendental tanke, men var måske netop ’bare’ disse kropsliggørelser af en bevidsthedsmæssig form eller modus. Glenn Gould ser musikken. Det er interessant at Gould først rigtig forstår musikken i det øjeblik, at musikkens lydlige dimension er væk og i stedet ser han fingrenes tavse arbejde. Det er også værd at notere sig, at denne åbenbaring bliver ham foræret af en banal, hverdagslig og tilfældig forstyrrelse. En støvsuger gør ham til Seer. For der er jo tale om at Gould ser noget vi ellers ikke opfatter som synligt.
Måske er det at lægge for meget i denne historie om Glenn Gould. Men lad os bare tage os den frihed at gå lidt videre og lade anekdoten fremstå som noget eksemplarisk og vigtigt. Og på den baggrund forsøge at drage nogle konklusioner. Nuvel. Det forhold at forståelsen af musikken kan blive åbenbaret gennem et andet sanseområde end det musikken i første ombæring udfolder sig indenfor (hørelsen, det lydlige) må betyde, at den mening der bæres frem i musikken peger i retning af noget mere omfattende og noget mere grundlæggende end det rent lydlige. Hvis Glenn Goulds forståelse af Bach virkelig har noget på sig, da kan de forskellige sanser ikke ses som afdækkende indbyrdes isolerede områder af virkeligheden. Men deres produktive måde at supplere hinanden på er i dette tilfælde heller ikke af synæstetisk karakter. Synæstesien kan forklares neuro-biologisk og kan vel bedst beskrives som et hallucineret og i grunden fantastisk associativt skred i den perceptuelle oplevelse. For at forklare hvorfor skiftet fra hørelse til syn i tilfældet ’Glenn-Gould-spiller-Bach-til-lyden-af-en-støvsuger’ kan udgøre en åbenbaring, da skal man muligvis anskue sanserne som en art vinduer eller perceptuelle tragte, der supplere hinanden strålende, fordi de hver især er rettet mod og fører ind til det samme niveau i virkeligheden. Bachs musik udtrykker altså noget som i en eller andet forstand ikke ’bare’ er musik, men som heller ikke er noget transcendentalt eller spirituelt. Hvad er dette niveau? Hvad er dette plan eller element, som viser sig i et syn, som toner frem som noget hørbart, men som ikke selv er identisk med hverken det synlige eller det lydlige? Hvad er det, der melder sig hos Glen Gould igennem disse vinduer eller perceptuelle tragte om ikke et fluktuerende fundament af nøgen rumtid ? Er det tidens og rummets koordinater, der bliver klædt af og blotlagt for vores eksistens i et frossent øjeblik; i dette magiske perceptuelle moment fremprovokeret af larmen fra en støvsuger? Vi er givetvis nu ved at føre anekdoten om Glenn Gould længere ud end den kan bære. Men hensigten er at pege på sansningen af det, der enten ligger imellem, eller som skaber overlap imellem, de individuelle sanseområder. At entrere dette dybereliggende nøgne område kræver lydhørhed overfor alle sanser og ikke mindst overfor tilfældet.

Det kan måske virke sært at indlede en tekst om maleriet med ovenstående historie om en musiker. Det er givetvis sandt, at maleriet bearbejder problematikker vedrørende ’synet’, ’det synlige’ og det at have ’et syn’, men dette er ikke kun forbeholdt maleriet og de andre visuelle kunstformer . Musikkens ’mening’ kan godt træde frem som en synlig genstand, ligesom det synlige godt kan åbenbare sig som en musikalsk struktur. Stjernen har grædt rosa i dit øres hjerte skrev Rimbaud i det forbilledlige digt ’Vokaler’, der handler om sproglydenes oprindelse. Vi må lægge øre til synet ligesom vi må lægge syn til øret. Gennem perceptuelle cross-overs eller inter-sensoriske sansninger opbrydes de traditionelle sanseformer. Det abstrakte er for mig at se denne bevægelse hvorigennem tingenes og bevidsthedens klædedragter trækkes bort. Afdækkes. Og bevidsthedens underliggende fundament af nøgen rumtid træder frem. Forståelsen af det abstrakte som en transcendentalt stræbende bevægelse der søger idealitetens kongerige i det hinsidige forekommer helt futil. An artist has to risk chaos as often as he ventures into new territory. Abstract art has become so tame precisely because it is so tidy, so precise, so well ordered by academic convention…..Indeed what we may need could be a new “mess”. Perhaps it is fear of a mess that we are so afraid of any reference to nature. Således skrev den østrigske kunstteoretiker Anton Ehrenzweig i begyndelsen af 60’erne. Hver ny epoke har brug for et nyt rod. En ny u-orden. Find ud af hvordan rodet skal se ud i dag.

Det er en besynderlig, men udbredt misforståelse, at tidsdimensionen skulle være underordnet i maleriet. Selv et henkastet blik eller et nok så momentant syn udgør en tidslig proces. Det er således misvisende at tale om tidsbaserede medier, som om tidsdimensionen kun gør sig gældende i film, video, performance eller live-billeder. Grundet ordenes successive rækkefølge, da virker det ganske naturligt, at et sprogligt argument eller en fortælling nødvendigvis kræver en vis mængde tid for at kunne sætte sig igennem. Men det samme gør sig også gældende for en genstand og ethvert andet synligt emne. Visualiteten er strømmende, stråle og –partikelbaseret og i det hele taget så massiv og kraftfuld, at vores bevidsthed fornuftigvis er således indrettet, at den sanser ’lidt af gangen’ og med skiftende fokus. Vi ser ikke en genstands ’omrids’ på nøjagtig samme tid som vi ser dens ’farvetone’. Vi ser ikke en genstands ’stoflige egenskaber’ på nøjagtig samme tid som vi ser genstandens placering i forhold til andre genstande. Disse forskellige aspekter ved genstanden optræder i et forløb, hvor de forskellige sansninger føjer sig til hinanden og understøtter hinanden i en vekselvirkende kognitionsproces, der antager højere og højere kompleksitet. Synet er underlagt forskellige tempi og dette forhold kan maleriet slet ikke undgå at tematisere. Uanset om det så er ekspliciteret rent malerisk. Dog er det ikke den samme temporalitet som gennemløber et sprogligt argument og som gennemløber en synsproces. Det er ikke den samme temporalitet der gør sig gældende i en musikalsk komposition, en togtur gennem byen, en evolutionær proces, et vingeslag, en muskelrefleks, en plantes vækst eller i terrorbegivenhedens spredning igennem et globalt medierum. Der er tale om vidt forskellige processer og tidsligheder, som alligevel skærer hinanden i det tilfældighedernes heterogene kaos, som et vilkårligt snit igennem vores hverdag udgør. At vi overhovedet har ’sans’ for disse forskellige tempi, synes at være fordi bevidstheden er udstyret med en vis elasticitet, hvad tidsopfattelsen angår. Den kan strække sig og trække sig sammen, den kan eksplodere og indtage enorme rum og ruge over endeløse flader, som i den psykedeliske oplevelse. Men den kan også spidse til og blive helt punktuel, stikkende, metrisk og intensiv som i et angstanfald. Bevidsthedens temporalitet folder sig ind over og tager bolig i tingenes temporalitet. For at forstå tingenes væsen. For at forstå hvorledes tiden løber igennem den organiske og uorganiske materie.
Når vi diskuterer maleri i almindelighed vil man typisk sige, at her er den mediespecifikke tilgang nødvendig for overhovedet at kunne sige noget kvalificeret om maleriet. Det synes delvist rigtigt. At diskutere maleri, der handler om maleri (hvad det så end i øvrigt skulle betyde, at maleriet handler om sig selv?) forekommer ligegyldigt. Men det interessante er heller ikke ’projektet’ eller ’konceptet’ hvor mediet opfattes som underordnet den overordnede værkstrategi, ud fra hvilken kunstneren ’frit’ kan vælge og vrage mellem forskellige medier ud fra princippet om at finde frem til det medie, der kommunikerer ’idéen’ eller ’projektet’ bedst. Det interessante er den menneskelige bevidstheds hele funktionsmåde, og derfor kan det hverken være maleriet i sig selv eller ’projektet’, der er det interessante. Det interessante er, hvorledes denne funktionsmåde kan ses eksponeret i et medie. Og hvorledes, der i dette medie efterlades et synligt spor. Som var der tale om et partikelspor i et tågekammer. Modellen for kunsten bliver da tågekammeret, som er dette instrument, man bruger i fysikken til at synliggøre atomare partiklers bevægelser. Det består af en beholder fyldt med luft, brint eller helium, der er mættet med vanddamp. I bunden er der et stempel, og foroven et vindue. Hvis luften ekspanderes ved pludselig at sænke stemplet, resulterer det i en overmætning af vanddampen, som nu vil have en tendens til at fortættes i små, synlige dråber (tåge). De usynlige ladninger, som en ioniserende partikel, fx en alfapartikel, måtte have efterladt sig langs sit spor, vil virke som kim for dråbedannelsen. Derved gøres sporet synligt, således at det vil kunne affotograferes, inden dråberne opløses igen. Når en ladet partikel således passerer gennem gassen, viser synlige kondensstriber sig. Mediet er altså denne gas, og beholderen ville så være kunstrummet. Kameraet, der tager fotografiet, er kunsthistorien. Hvad en atomar partikel så dækker over i denne forbindelse, vil jeg lade stå åbent. Alt muligt! Modellen foreskriver at kunsten ikke skal afbilde det synlige, men derimod gøre noget synligt. Synliggøre bevægelser. Dette kan have almindelig interesse, være æstetisk interessant eller videnskabeligt afgørende, men det kan også have stærk politisk betydning. Det afhænger alt sammen af, hvad der synliggøres, og hvilken orden det synliggjorte tilhører.
Hvorfor bruge en model fra fysikken? For at sige at vi ikke længere når nogen vegne ved fortsat at tale om abstrakt vs. figurativ, mediespecifik vs. projektdefineret, fortællende maleri vs. formelt maleri. Begreberne ligger i os som rygmarvsreaktioner, men tilbyder os i dag ikke andet end et sæt af falske alternativer, der bevirker at maleriet fastholdes i en kunsthistorisk spændetrøje. Man kan så sige, at det er dér maleriet hører til: i kunsthistoriens spændetrøje. Og hvad andet end konservative kræfter skulle kunne ønske at frisætte et medie, hvis begrebsapparat ikke er andet end et sæt ubrugelige værktøjer, der ikke bringer os i øjenhøjde med vores egen samtid? Maleriet er lige meget. Det interessante er billedet i bredeste forstand. Og er vi interesserede i det og er det vores udgangspunkt, ja, så er maleriet slet ikke lige meget. Så er værktøjskassen pludselig interessant og anvendelig til at tænke visualiteten i sin helhed. Men kan en begrebsudvikling knyttet til maleriet ikke kvalificere et syn på den visuelle verden nu, så er maleriet blevet ligesom ’jazz’ eller ’rock’. Det kan stadig godt rykke, men det er ligesom sket og hvad så? Så kan mediet bare forfines eller fornørdes. Malerne bliver nogen, der dyrker den gode smag i en eksklusiv whisky klub eller nogen, der hygger sig i kælderen med modeljernbaner. Det er uden historisk betydning.

Indledningen af denne tekst handlede om forholdet mellem sansning og tid anskuet som bevidsthedsmæssige fænomener. Det har her udgjort en selvstændig pointe at pege på maleriet som et tidsbaseret medie ligesom jeg har ønsket at påpege, hvorledes der er brug for en begrebsudvikling på dette område. Afslutningsvis vil jeg gerne vende fokus væk fra bevidstheden og kigge ud på nogle af de billeder der rører sig nu(!). Nedenstående er skrevet mens angsten for svineinfluenza-epidemien stod på sit højeste, hvad som bekendt faldt sammen med finanskrisen og klimakrisen. Teksten tager udgangspunkt i nogle avisforsider fra Dagbladet Børsen og fra Dagbladet Information, samt billedmateriale fundet på nettet. Jeg har skrevet om disse billeder, fordi jeg fandt dem visuelt stimulerende:
”Influenzafrygt kan slukke væksthåb”, står der med hvid skrifttype over billedet af et rødglødende organisk legeme, der toner dramatisk frem på en coboltblå baggrund. Hvad forestiller dette billede egentlig? Et astrofysisk objekt? En mandelbrot fraktal? Legemets omkreds synes opløst til et matematisk pulver af isolerede pointilistiske pixels, der som rødt stjernestøv søger mod den nedre uendelighed. Legemets pulserende røde indre er ubestemmeligt som en uklar ultralydsscanning af et foster. Det må være virusset. A H1N1. Svineinfluenzaen. Men der er også den mulighed, at billedet snarere er en abstrakt forestilling, der skal illustrere gløden fra væksthåbet, som ifølge teksten nu svinder helt ind? I så fald må dette være billedet af vækstens eget svinske og feberramte embryo, hvis overlevelsesmuligheder tegner virkelig ringe. Rødglødende animistiske kapitalisme: håbet svinder ind, så blæs til gløden, blæs liv ind i systemet, stop det ud med sedler og TRO PÅ AT KADAVRET IGEN FÅR BEN AT GÅ PÅ. HÅB! Det er meningen, at jeg skal frygte det, der kommer med dette billede. Men i al sin fascinerende flertydighed er det jo svært ikke bare at være glad ved billedet. Så jeg klipper det ud og hænger det op på væggen i mit atelier. Under billedet følger ingen opklarende beskrivelse af, hvad det egentlig er et billede af. Med en uanseelig skrifttype står der blot: ”FOTO: VISUALS UNLIMITED”. En anden forside: den er grafisk klarere, men ikke desto mindre malende og effektfuld. På en skriggul baggrund står der ”ADVARSEL”. Nedenunder står der med kæmpestore sorte typer: ”H1N1”. Underoverskriften lyder ”hvad er farligst: en influenzapandemi – eller et globalt selvsving af panik?” Sort-gul kombinationen signalerer fare overalt i dyreriget og i det hele taget slår farveskalaerne hysterisk ud. I lufthavnene bliver menneskemængden feberscannet af termiske kameraer i sikkerhedskontrollen. Skærmbillederne ligner psykedeliske drømmevisioner, hvor auratiske legemer er i spirituel transit. Men er det ikke. Når disse linjer engang er trykt, så er H1N1 højst sandsynligt glemt igen. Systemet vil være feberfrit, og det interessante er da heller ikke svineinfluenzaen i sig selv, men den panikreaktion den afføder, og som forplanter sig globalt. Klodens immunforsvar slår ud i billeder. Er det ikke simpelthen i denne form for eksalteret paranoia, at vor tids ’systemer’ - vor tids ’kosmologier’ - træder frem som synlige strukturer. I febertilstanden får vi et glimt af de visuelle overflader og arkitekturer, der udgør denne yderst komplicerede konstruktion af fluktuerende informationssystemer.
Afslutningsvis er det måske på sin plads at spørge, hvad dette dog har med maleri at gøre? Alt! Motivet er et landskabsmotiv: et dystopisk og teknologisk højspændt landskab, hvor mennesker såvel som natur ses igennem termiske kameraer, der registrerer feber, fjender og smeltende ismasser. Og midt i dette apokalyptiske rod skal malerne stille sig. Og finde ud af hvad det egentlig er for usynlige partikler, der skal sendes igennem det tågekammer som maleriet er. Kondensstriber.
(Skrevet til udstillingen Deformities of Speed, Sophienholm, september 2009).

Nordic State of Mind

'In a Nordic State of Mind'
By Julie Damgaard
Amos Eno Gallery 2007

“I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements – with one voice, two voices. I build with primitive materials – with the triad, with one specific tonality”.
- Arvo Pärt, Estonian composer, b. 1935

“Silence often speaks louder than words”. With this note, Flemming Hoff is in fact saying a great deal about his artistic work. Hoff’ s paintings decline to be subject to in-depth, art historical analyses and protracted, theoretical discussions; these are works that address the senses and distinctively call for touch and smell. Works, you – ideally – have to relate to physically, and which will only suffer damage when they are wrapped in words. In consequence it seems paradoxical to write a text about them. They do, however, deserve a few remarks.

A finished surface
Flemming Hoff has a background in architecture and there is no denying this basis: His oil painting are meticulously build from scratch through use of various paint scrapers; and the picture surface is essentially characterized by geometrical shapes and stringent, accurate compositions. The formal features reveal a close kinship with American ‘colour field painters’ like Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman and Morris Louis, but the palette is far more ascetic. Hoff rarely uses more than three colours – white, black and an earth colour. Colours, whose unpretentiousness is accentuating the nature of the picture surface and directing attention to the range of structures, this surface holds.

The numerous layers of paint – interacting with one another – lay the foundation for these structures, which bring thoughts of kaleidoscopic, abstract signs and wild, wonderful arabesques. This arbitrary, unrestrained ‘embossing’ endows the rigorous, non-figurative painting with a certain tension. The works speak their own alchemical language, that rouses the curiosity of the viewer.

Nordic ’blues’ and pitch black humour
Though it is not Hoff´s intention that his works should represent anything, titles like Scenery I and Scenery II nevertheless leaves the impression that he is inspired by nature. The recurrent picturesque ‘configuration’ comprising two horizontal rectangles of different colour – one on top of the other – in a composition reminiscent of the coastlines of the Danish dark painter Niels Lergaard (07.03) merely stresses this view. The flat, Danish landscape – resting on several geological strata – and the surrounding seascapes appearing crystal clear in the cold, bright, Scandinavian light seem to have left their imprint on the canvases.

Above all, however, the works are marked by a striking melancholy. Amid their purity and beauty they contain a sad longing or bleakness that has proven to be a fundamental part of the Nordic mind: darkness lurks in every corner even during the light summer nights. Hoff makes it apparent that the dawn only exists by virtue of the dusk – and vice versa. The subdued aesthetics, that calls for absorption and contemplation, is only now and then ‘interrupted’ by passionate outbursts or humorous whims as seen in Scenery I + II and Mr. Rothko´s Tie respectively. Where Scenery I + II not only draw the curtain on a sensuously glowing ’scenography’, but also on a new, far more colourful tendency in Hoffs´s work, Mr. Rothko´s Tie, with it´s ‘tongue-in-cheeky’ quality, puts a smile on the viewer´s face.

Disrupted meditation
The almost meditative atmosphere that Hoff´s paintings set the stage for, they also break. The simplified, two-dimensional surface suddenly expands into three dimensions, and the space, in which the eye has previously found peace, is now disturbed by flickering, physical structures. Like a magician Hoff adheres to his very own ’illusionism’ – and thus creates an opening towards one of the key elements within both classical and modern art, viz. ‘the sublime’.

Characteristic of the sublime space is its unwillingness to be conquered. It contains the unknown and the infinite; all the things we will never comprehend. The state of equilibrium that at first glance charaterizes Hoff´s work, is destabilized by the sublime seeping in, and the nature of the painting changes from something acknowledgable and balanced to something unclear and chaotic. The centre of gravity shifts and the work discloses another constitution, another ’temperament’.

Here we find the magic of Hoff´s paintings. The soft harmonies – a testimony to the musical inspiration of the artist – tilt into atonal sequences that are impossible to follow but nonetheless possess their very own beauty. An underplayed drama unfolds on the canvas, and logic, consistency and clarity fray at the edges. These paintings speak to us from a position somewhere between romanticism and modernism and reveal a picture space that – notwithstanding its minimalist expression – is saturated with matter, soul and spirit.

Behind the scenes
Every painting is based on a lengthy working process, and even if Hoff readily places things on the surface, the viewer instictively feels that certain elements are kept hidden. ‘Cracks’ in the painting, as seen in 06.07., hint at the existence of several ’substrata’; and the white squares, that appear in both Checkpoint, Dancing All Night, In the Front Line and Lonesome White refer straight ‘backwards’ to the virginal, untouched canvas: the original starting point for the work of the artist. Like bare, luminous steles marking a ’lost’ innocence and an open range of opportunities they come out of the darkness and seem to illustrate the elaborate and conceptual attempt of the artist to paint his way back to the source of origin.

As a viewer you are surprised and moved by this ’leitmotif’ – this army of inscrutable pictures quietly emerging as strong indicators of a multitude of dreams, imaginations, memories, hopes and visions.