q & art | ira hoffecker

i first wrote about the artwork of ira hoffecker in august of 2011. i've always been quite obsessed with resin coated artwork. i briefly met ira in the gallery i was working at during that time. it's always a pleasure to discover that an artist is just as lovely as the pieces they create. it was an honour to chat with ira in her victoria, bc studio and this interview reaffirmed that passion is a key part of the art making process.

q | tell me about the connections between your work and the cities that they portray. do you purposefully include or emphasize buildings and places that are important to you?

ih | my inspiration comes from cities and urban places and spaces. i had the privilege of traveling a lot when i was young. as a student i would save my money and then just go and live in south america for half a year, or go to india, or go up and visit almost all of europe. what is important to me is the memories i have from these places, the experiences…i want to impress in my work the way that a place felt. i lived in paris for a year and a half and i remember walking those streets and found that i either liked paris or i hated it depending on my mood. i try to put all of that atmosphere, or whatever i was feeling on a particular day into my painting. i do not want to paint a topographical map - i like the play between representation and abstraction. it starts as a topographical view, but then i take a day or several days and then i try to make a painting out of it. traveling is such a rich experience that i need to take time and process it. i have to really let it sit for awhile. it’s a very long process for me to complete a painting – i couldn’t do it in an afternoon.

q | does the time you take to let a piece sit for awhile affect how you finish it – or cause you to not want to finish it at all?

ih | yes. one time last year i sent sixteen paintings to a gallery in edmonton. i painted and painted, and sent them away and then felt as if some of them weren’t finished. i asked them to send them back. i hadn’t seen them for maybe two months and then i knew what to do. and it changed almost completely!

q | tell me more about your artistic process. 

ih | the actual act of creation for me comes when i ‘respond.’ i like that. i put that there, and this here, and then i’m able to respond to what i’ve just done. it’s also about responding to the city i went to. 

q | there’s been a great deal of interest in your work and you’ve achieved lots of success in the past year – why do you think this is?

ih | i feel very lucky that people all of a sudden take an interest. i don’t know exactly how it happens but i have a show in [one place, and then another, and then another] and i think it creates an awareness. i think it’s the result of working really hard. i paint every day and i have an interest in selling my work – it’s my job.

q | in light of your aforementioned success, do you feel pressure to paint specific styles of artworks because you know they will sell?

ih | i believe it is my privilege to change my artistic style whenever i feel like it. there’s a lot of different people who say “why don’t you just do this style?” and there are others who celebrate the changes and accept it. certain styles for me are just a phase – i do it for awhile and then i do something different!

q: why do you choose abstraction or modernism as your overall style of choice?

ih | i’m so taken by shapes and colour and composition that i don’t even have the time to paint a landscape or something representational. the shapes and the colour give me more than enough to think about. colour is so exciting! it’s certainly not the most important thing but it adds a very important complement.

q | tell me about the writing within your paintings - what languages do you use? does it connect to the city you’ve portrayed? 

ih | yes, it does connect. my intention is mostly for it to be a pattern. in only a few instances i take the liberty to make little notes about the city but often it’s a thought that i have while i create a painting. i don’t want it to necessarily be readable – it’s so personal that i have to put something over it. i write mostly in german because it is my native language. if i wrote english text in my paintings i wouldn’t even know if it was correct. i don’t want to have to think about that.

q | i heard that you admire franz kline and robert rauschenberg - what other artists inspire you?

ih | i like rauschenberg. i’m very drawn to metal and collage but i don’t like when the materials stick out. that is the reason why i came to use resin. i had paintings with metal pieces but i wanted them to be paintings not a [three-dimensional] collage. the resin allows me to stick things on the painting beneath a layer of resin and you can’t even tell that there are prints and metals and other pieces underneath.
it’s really important to mention the artist that made me want to paint more – nicolas de staĆ«l. he is my hero. i discovered him about five years ago in paris at the centre pompidou. when you see his paintings, you will see me. he [passed away] sixty years ago but if he hadn’t i would find a way to be his student. he emphasized the spaces in between shapes and that’s what i really love. the in-between is why i paint. to me that is what my art is all about. i look at his work as if he is my teacher.

q: you use resin a lot. do you worry that people associate your work solely with resin, or that your pieces will begin to look unfinished if you do not cover them with resin?

ih | i don’t worry about it. i know that it may be hard to sell certain pieces that are not in that style. and i do have an interest in selling my work. but i want to be able to say “today, i want to go into my garden, and work with metals and just see what happens.” i know there are certain paintings that if i did that (re-created them), i could sell them. but i can’t do it because i feel like this now (points to a new series of paintings with a different theme than her past work).

thank-you ira!!

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