Canadian Art

See It

David Hoffos: Night Moves

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Nov 6 2009 to Feb 14 2010
David Hoffos  <I>Scenes from the House Dream: C.P. Fail</I>  2008  Detail  Courtesy the artist and Trépanier Baer Gallery  /  photo David Miller  David Hoffos Scenes from the House Dream: C.P. Fail 2008 Detail Courtesy the artist and Trépanier Baer Gallery / photo David Miller

David Hoffos <I>Scenes from the House Dream: C.P. Fail</I> 2008 Detail Courtesy the artist and Trépanier Baer Gallery / photo David Miller

No one creates dioramas with more haunting presence than Lethbridge artist David Hoffos. For more than a decade, he has been crafting light boxes and room installations that create hyperreal alternate spaces and suspend images in three-dimensional settings. For the past five years, Hoffos has been occupied with Scenes from the House Dream, a set of installations that, in past iterations, has functioned as a darkened funhouse excursion into memory, an imaginary voyage into mysterious personal spaces. Now, in a tour organized by Rodman Hall in St. Catharines in collaboration with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge and Trépanier Baer Gallery in Calgary, the full suite of works has taken up residence at the National Gallery in Ottawa. (Next, the installation will move on to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the Illingworth Kerr Gallery.)

When she wrote about the Lethbridge exhibition of Scenes from the House Dream for Canadian Art last year, Calgary critic Nancy Tousley observed, “As windows onto the unconscious mind, the scenes develop as a poetics of the dream or the dreamer rather than the story of dream. They take place at night, when the normal world of the everyday is displaced by the fears, anxieties, loneliness, depression and mysteries that arise and take hold as darkness falls.” Some of the projected figures in Hoffos’ installations are spookily real, and they seem like apparitions chased by a train of thought. One of the artist’s highlights, C.P. Fail, indeed shows a train stopped in a forest. Time is stalled in a shadow-filled wood that is nonetheless intimate and beckoning. Some might recall the opening lines of Dante’s Divine Comedy: “Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself/In dark woods, the right road lost.” With Hoffos, the road has become a modern rail line and the lostness a landscape unto itself. (380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa ON)

This article was first published online on November 26, 2009.

RELATED STORIES

  • Nomads

    In their post-structural opus A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, the French theorists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari characterized nomadic movement as “maintaining the possibility of springing up at any point.”

  • Gabor Szilasi: Gathering Presents of the Past

    For more than five decades, Montreal artist Gabor Szilasi has worked diligently to create a documentary record of everyday life. The remarkable results of his dedication go on view this week in a well-deserved retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada.

  • Chris Millar: Back in the Groove

    One of Canada’s best young painters branches out into sound art and vinyl-record editions in his latest exhibition. The results still address Chris Millar’s comic art, psychedelia and sci-fi obsessions, but bring in a little Simon and Garfunkel as well.

 

FOUNDATION NEWS

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

ONLINE

  • Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: Black Birds

    New York critic Joseph R. Wolin heads to the Park Avenue Armory where Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller are creating a buzz (and other sounds) at the US premiere of a dark, nightmarish installation originally created for the 2008 Biennale of Sydney.

  • Grange Prize 2012: Hot Shots

    One of Canada’s largest cash-value art prizes—$65,000 in total with $50,000 going to the winner, $5,000 to three runners-up—announced its finalists this week. Take in their wide-ranging works in this slideshow.

  • Wanda Koop: Into the Woods

    A visit to Wanda Koop’s cabin near Riding Mountain National Park in southern Manitoba proves intriguing for Vancouver critic Robin Laurence. There, Laurence writes, Koop bridges old Grey Owl myths with a new series of paintings on our increasingly digital culture.

  • Brad Tinmouth: Survival Strategies

    The basement of an art gallery may seem an unlikely place to create an emergency shelter. However, Xpace's lower gallery is an ideal setting for Brad Tinmouth's “If Times Get Tough or Even If They Don't,” which evokes a cold-war bunker.

  • Wim Delvoye: Blame it on Paris

    Silk-covered pigs, lattice-cut car tires and a tattooed man are just a few of the works that Belgian artist Wim Delvoye has shuttled into the old, Gothic wing of the Louvre this summer. Jill Glessing reviews, finding a terrific amalgam of high and low.

More Online

Report a problem