Finding a world of natural beauty in western Hennepin County last summer, Larry Hofmann transformed it into “Discoveries From the Car Window” at Groveland’s Annex gallery. In 14 paintings he depicts scenes spied while driving down country lanes on still evenings when the sun’s last light rakes the fields and marshes with a particular luminosity. The Mankato native, who still owns family farmland near Janesville, has been painting such vistas for more than 30 years and knows that light well. Connoisseurs of Hofmann’s paintings appreciate the extraordinary atmospheric effects he captures when describing, typically, a low marsh or grassy field edged by distant trees under an open sky unmarked by even a whiff of cloud or turbulence. Often there is a lone tree or shrub near the center of his pictures. Single trees do grow that way in the natural world, setting down roots and spreading their branches apart from the tangled thickets nearby. They don’t occur as often in nature, however, as they do in Hofmann’s paintings. A psychologist might even see self-portraits in his recurrent bits of independent greenery. Still, rather than over-interpret, it’s best to simply admire the nuance in his mesmerizing images, which are really tonal compositions about the play of light on the natural world. Depending on the time of day, the humidity and the season, he washes his landscapes with warn light or cool tones, coloring the sky peach, aqua, or celadon and the landscape with dusky sage, deep olive or bright chartreuse. For all their superficial similarities, each of Hofmann’s pictures is a fresh marvel of meditation. Mary Abbe.
25 Groveland TerraceMinneapolis, MN
Date: Ended 06/7/14
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