Ronald Hofman


Ronald Hofman (1967) has one overriding source of inspiration: Japan, its art, and its culture.

Unlike Ronald, I have not visited Japan, so my knowledge of the country is based on other things. , I dare say, that I have fairly in-depth knowledge of the art of Hokusai and Hiroshihe. To Haruki Murakami's novels (which I have read all as one). For films like Sofia Coppola's excellent "Lost in Translation". To modern artists like Chiharu Shiota, Yayoi Kusama and Mariko Mori. For the TV documentary "Japan with Sue Perkins" and for the Pokemon cartoons that I saw with my kids when they were little. In other words: not a first-hand knowledge, but enough for me to understand and see that Japan has some features that differ significantly from traditional Western thinking and aesthetics.

I find many of these features in Ronald Hofman's works. The very special compositional principles with strong contour lines, lack of central perspective, pure colors, calligraphically beautiful letters and crooked cropping of the motif.

In terms of content, one sees a very typical mix of fine cultural references to old woodcut and to elements of modern mass culture: advertisements, movie posters and comics. A mix where motifs from Hokusai's and Hiroshige's super aesthetic works are mixed with American pop art. This just should not be understood as meaning that the Japanese elements stand solely for the highly cultural. Hokusai could both depict the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji and create deeply pornographic images. Dividing something into highs and lows is more of a western tradition.

This mix of fine culture and mass entertainment is repeated in Ronald Hofman's pictorial world. Samurai meet manga characters, Hokusai's wave collides with Godzilla, traditional renditions of dragons are seen side by side with Pokemon creatures, and the motif from the Japanese flag, the rising sun, is challenged by Mickey Mouse.

The materials themselves are also mixed and multicultural. Ronald Hofman uses the traditional square canvas, but also paints directly on skateboards (he has a past as a skater). Something that helps to emphasize and illustrate the complexity of Japanese culture.

Ronald Hofman does all this with a graphic clarity and a coloristic precision that lives up very well to his Japanese role models. It's eye-catching, it's inviting, and it's dynamic. In short, it's really good.

Tom Jørgensen, art critic for Kunstavisen and Jyllands Posten