It Still Smells of Nothing: Cathrin Hoffmann's New Paintings of Love and Loss
It’s known that a freakily unique symptom of Covid 19 is the loss of the olfaction, so it’s freakily unique that It Still Smells of Nothing is the title of Cathrin Hoffmann’s debut solo show at London’s Public Gallery opening October 14, 2020. We’re thrilled to get a sneak peak of the multi-media artist’s colorful, piercing observations about what it means to be human in the post-digital age. Recent months of isolation have left each of us to our quiet thoughts and devices, tethered to technology, and Hoffman has created a landscape of sculpture, painting and installation where we can share her vision.
"I created a new virtual body, with its weaknesses and idiosyncrasies, to probe what our present time with modern technology, digitization, and hyper-capitalism has made us become?" Hoffmann explains the idea behind her work for It Still Smells of Nothing. "How do we exist and behave? What is human, what remains?" Recognizable figures dominated by anthropomorphic effigies, the visuals are contorted and distorted, reaching out into a void but paralyzed by competing and confounding forces. 3D renderings create uniform human bodies, differentiated by random skin imperfections or overgrown nails, as Homo Sapiens, accompanied by a shadow companion, seems to devolve into anthropoid. Rarely interacting with others, even natural elements or characters, she captures them seeking connection. Strongly reinforced by the past period of lockdown and isolation, the Hamburg-based artist continues her quest to understand the essential aspects of being, such as pain and pleasure, love and loss, isolation and connection, birth and death.
The exhibition includes a site-specific installation created at the gallery, along with her first series of sculptural works in which the artist’s dimensional imagery transcends into the physical realm. Made from cut out wood or hard-coated fiber reinforced foam, these works contrast the inherent flaws of analog, hand-made work, the perceived perfection of the digital world, and what exists in between. "My digital work is bright, polished and perfect," Hoffmann says. "As soon as I try to reproduce this, I realize it is impossible. It is this area in between that interests me, the perfectly imperfect." In portraying her nude, deformed, and fragile figures, the artist creates a visual drama about collective anxiety in an increasingly online world, for human beings seek to break out of a digital persona. —Sasha Bogojev