David Hoffos   Scenes from the House Dream

October 4, 2008 - November 30, 2008

Our final exhibition of the year, and the last prior to the closure of the Gallery’s current premises for extensive renovations, is local artist David Hoffos’s master work, Scenes from the House Dream.  The House Dream project has formed the nexus of Hoffos’s studio practice for the past five years and serves as a compendium of the artist’s signature new/old media techniques which have been perfected over seventeen years of art production. Hoffos, an internationally recognized artist, has a long history with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. In 1992, while still a student at the University of Lethbridge, he was invited to create an artwork for the storefront window of the gallery’s temporary space in the old Hoyt’s Hardware store. His stellar creation Public dazzled both art viewers and innocent passersby. As they say, the rest is history. His unparalleled success in presenting exhibitions across Canada and abroad is legendary. It is a source of local pride that he continues to maintain his studio practice in Lethbridge.

Following Public, Hoffos was invited in 1999 to present an exhibition in SAAG’s coveted upper gallery. His stunning solo exhibition, Another City enchanted locals and visitors alike. Its romantic content riffed on vintage Hollywood, but its sleight of hand was pure Hoffos. Viewers were mesmerized as they were drawn into the artist’s world and became part of the work itself.  SAAG was privileged to partner with the Illingworth Kerr Gallery at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary to produce the first book documenting David Hoffos’s practice, The Lethbridge Illusionist and his Cinema of Attractions.  Calgary critic and art writer Nancy Tousley contributed an essay which defined David Hoffos’s practice—his unique approach to moving images and their relationship to the history of illusion.  As well as earlier work, the volume includes documentation of both Another City and Catastrophe, the latter which premiered in Calgary. In retrospect, Catastrophe, with its apocalyptic storyline and allusion to the disaster movie genre proved to be uncomfortably prophetic in its depiction of a plane crashing into a city.

David Hoffos’s ongoing practice continues to explore the uncanny and its relationship to the everyday; his engaging mixture of both creates narratives that transcend time and place. The artist’s use of low-tech paraphernalia to produce illusions of reality has contributed to an entirely original body of work. The subject matter of his current production represents a move away from the outward-looking spectacle to a more personal examination of the human psyche. In Scenes from the House Dream (which now number 25), as with all previous work, Hoffos forms a pact with the viewer; he asks us to suspend disbelief and enter his world. What we find there may both disturb and delight.

Far from being a distant icon, David Hoffos has always had great respect for his community. His practice of returning value to the city that nurtured him is attested to by numerous participatory projects. Over the years, he has generously collaborated with the SAAG in developing educational partnerships involving local high school art students. These include workshops and collaborations with Winston Churchill High school (1997) and Catholic Central High School (1999) both of which produced intriguing works and engaged the students in a professional approach to art making. His close ties to both Lethbridge and Calgary are well recognized and his dedication to local endeavours continues. In conjunction with SAAG’s premiere of Scenes from the House Dream in October, Hoffos is launching an encore of Another City and Catastrophe at the Esplanade Art Gallery in Medicine Hat opening to the public on Tuesday, October 14. From October 14-24, he will conduct an installation workshop for McKoy High School art students. Their collaborative work will be on view at a public reception for the artists held on October 24 featuring a Hoffos-assisted preview performance by Decidedly Jazz Danceworks from Calgary.

"The series is a meandering journey. The experiment was to see if I could take an idea and live with it for five years and to see what comes from that. The process is a bit of a leap, but it has also been a way of developing techniques that were fairly crude in my work in the ‘90s. Now I feel these ideas are getting dialed in. I have always thought that artists should give themselves a sort of second childhood; when they go to art school and think maybe that making art is what they want to pursue, they’re being born. As they learn, they develop technique and craft, they start to enter an adolescence. In my work, I feel like I’ve just come out of my adolescence. Maybe the works I’m doing now are the first adult things that I’ve done."

From an Interview with Glenn Lowry, West Coast Line 50, Staging Vernaculars, p. 86,Vol. 40, No. 2, CAG, 2007.

David Hoffos was born in Montreal. He continued his education in Australia and Calgary. He earned a BFA with Great Distinction from the University of Lethbridge in l994. He is the recipient of grants awarded by the Banff Centre Studio Residency Program, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2002 he was awarded a Sobey Prize. His work has been exhibited across Canada, and in Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and the USA. He is represented by TrépanierBaer in Calgary.

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