Photos: Andreas Stuckenschneider


4th September - 30th October 2015



The DIRECT ART GALLERY is proud to present the first solo show in the Rhineland of the internationally known Outsider Artist Josef Hofer in exhibition Nº 6 “Through the looking glass”. Josef  Hofer is represented in many museums and collections all over the world. In 2003 his works were included in the "Collection de l'Art Brut" by Jean Dubuffet in Lausanne.

Born during the last days of the Second World War, Josef Hof grew up on a farm in Upper Austria in complete isolation due to parental shame and fear of defamation and the political climate at the time. His early drawings are characterised by expressively drawn animals and objects from his environment. In the 90s Hofer purchases a mirror in an antique market that leads to the examination of his own body. The mirror, positioned in front of his bed, serves him as an "Alter Ego" that he gets in touch with and within he reflects and experiences himself over and over again. The perception and staging of the body becomes a central theme of his work. After intensive observations of his reflections in every conceivable pose, Hofer often draws himself in intimate situations – urinating, masturbating, ejaculating. It is not the political or idealised self-image that is at the forefront of his confrontation of erotic images. Josef Hofer does not want to provoke. Using the words of Michel Thévoz, it is the "state of graze" that is inherent in Hofers drawings – an unintentional view on himself and his surroundings. The naked male body, which is partially depicted in a fragmented, twisted and unnaturally expanded form is framed by a network of yellow and orange structures.

Initially the structures appear only partially, later they dominate the whole sheet to finally tear open for the naked bodies. The distinctive structures become frames. Such as Hofers own reflection is surrounded by a graven ornamental frame, his self-portrayals are situated within a clearly structured frame architecture. While the dense structures of his early works form separate, mostly linear areas that open up only small niches for the bodies, his later works show the bodies covering a big part of the surface. The dense and broad frame that surrounds the body like a protection layer is transgressed and functionalised for the depiction of perspective and three-dimensionality. The bodies, which were previously inserted into the given niches, suddenly sit on the frame and define the composition, whereas the partly narrow frames are drawn around the bodies. The formerly linear structures now guide into the room of the depicted subject like steps.

At times Hofers work is characterised by his fascination with Egon Schieles drawings. This is expressed by the attempt to imitate Schieles acts with his own body. Hofer adopts Schieles body concepts and colouring to embed them in his own distinctive imagery. Through this influence he develops female acts that wear long boots and present themselves in socially coded erotic poses. Hofers late work is characterised by multi-figured compositions. Gestures and facial expressions are shown by very few and expressive strokes.


Many international exhibitions and publications were dedicated to Josef Hofer during the last years. Especially the great commitment of the art historian Elisabeth Telsnig, who watches over Josef Hofers art since 1997, enabled the presentation of Hofers work in exhibitions and on fairs such as the Frieze Art Fair in London. Amongst others, Hofer is represented in big private and public collections such as the "Collection abcd" of Bruno Decharme and the "Collection de l'Art Brut" in Lausanne.





DIRECT ART GALLERY is a non-profit gallery with the aim to support artists with a mental or psychological handicap. The gallery is run by the foundation ‘Aktion-Kunst-Stiftung’ and is located in the centre of well-known museums and galleries in Dusseldorf. In addition to the presentation of classical positions on Outsider Art, the gallery also focuses on young, upcoming contemporary artists.