Critics’ Picks

Futur, 2005.

Futur, 2005.

London

Andreas Hofer

Hauser & Wirth London | Piccadilly
196a Piccadilly
March 31–May 6, 2006

Andreas Hofer's dominating sculptures, unsettling paintings, and disturbing combinations of found objects draw on deep visual memories. Cowboys, Spiderman, green-headed aliens, Billy the Kid, and Sigmund Freud—emphatically masculine figures of twentieth-century legend—appear on painted carpet, on Styrofoam, and as toys in their original plastic packaging. Each approaching daemon status, these figures direct their attention towards Daemon Nova Dreamer, 2006, a commanding panoramic canvas that is painted with a schematic scene of a winged creature targeted by missiles and is hung un-stretched, like a rally banner. Creating his own supernatural persona, Hofer acquires the optimistic pseudonym “Andy Hope” to sign his paintings, which are facetiously dated 1930, just a few years before Nazi Germany began its rise to power. The weight of reality, introduced by Hofer through Third Reich symbolism, threatens the fantasy induced by his deployment of cartoons and superheroes, turning these works towards the sinister. Yet Hofer's determinedly escapist recontextualizations undermine a truly nightmarish impact. Limbs that look like supersize Transformer figures diminish the monumentality of Reich, 2006, a pair of stern-faced Acrystal sculptures. Hofer develops the fantasy of this exhibition in the fortified bank vault on the gallery’s lower floor. The haunting cartoons on graph and lined paper, in Only Gods Could Survive, 2006, appear to have been ripped from school notebooks. Hofer seems to believe that a refusal to engage with reality is the true danger, enabling superhuman delusions of grandeur.