Working alone and in utter silence, this deaf-and-mute creator produces works that are surprisingly unconstrained and violently energetic. He has embraced drawing as his sole medium, taking it up with the intensity and fervor of a graphic adventure. Hofer possesses a piercing eye with which to dissect beings and things, often, moreover, as seen from various viewpoints in a single composition. He focuses on objects, depicting them in the manner of inventory, and on inside and outside spaces. Above all, however, it is human figures that hold his attention: these will be exclusively male, with a distorted body that underscores the strange and troubling character of the sexually explicit poses that they strike. His lines are nervous and jerky.
Of Austrian descent, Josef Hofer was born in Wegscheid (Bavaria) in 1945. He grew up isolated from the world on the family farmstead in Austria, without attending school. Upon his father’s death in 1982, a cousin took him in, together with his mother and his brother. Here he slowly emerged from his cloistered life and came to know several members of his family. From the age of forty, he was admitted to various institutions, where he took up drawing thanks to the in-house creativity workshops.
In 1997, his drawings came to the attention of Elisabeth Telsnig, an art historian who took a growing interest in them. She decided to assemble them and draw up an inventory, seeking to ensure Hofer’s reputation and a future for his oeuvre as a whole. The Collection de l’Art Brut is most grateful to Josef Hofer, Elisabeth Telsnig, Renate Sager, Franz Murauer and Jo Standhartinger for donating this first-rate body of works.
Some seventy drawings are presented in this exhibition, as well as a number of Mario del Curto’s recent photographs showing Hofer at his residence and in the throes of creating.
This exhibition enjoys the support of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Bern.
From June 6 to August 24, 2003
Vernissage on June 5, 2003, at 6.5 pm
Lucienne Peiry, Elisabeth Telsnig et Michel Thévoz (textes), Mario del Curto (photographies), Josef Hofer, Lausanne, Collection de l’Art Brut, 2003.