Traumatic, dramatic and inspiring; San Jose-based, former graffiti artist Patrick “Wadl” Hofmeister has a back story film directors would salivate over, but good luck getting him to talk about it. For the 32-year-old, it’s not about what he’s been through, but where he is now – and where he’s going as an artist.
“I’m at a point where I’m not letting my past define me and definitely trying to make some huge changes in myself,” says Hofmeister. “I think a lot of the work that I’m doing now has to do with my personal demons and really just looking at them and saying ‘I’m not going to pretend that you’re not there’ and that’s kind of what has been going on recently in my life. It may or may not show through in the work but those are thing things that I’m thinking about while I’m painting.”
Hofmeister, an acrylic-turned-oil-painter who taught himself the craft while living at Santa Clara’s Bill Wilson Center, creates abstract and pattern-centric pieces that speak to the viewer – often in a way they can’t explain. Whether they’re drawn to his use of insects, bold strokes of paint that stand out in a gallery, or how they discuss the micro and macro within the world, art appreciators can find something to latch onto within his works.
Having stolen the show when the Triton Museum of Art held the “Spiral: Art of the Street” exhibition in 2013 – a career highlight for the up-and-coming artist – Hofmeister has kept busy, including taking part in San Jose’s Anne and Mark’s Art Party and showcasing works in the Triton’s “Imagine” show earlier this year. He has also taken on a variety of commission pieces where he’s clear with the client up front that while they can express their ideas, the ultimate creative authority will reside with him – a way Hofmeister can ensure he produces a piece he’s proud to have created.
“I only take commissions from someone who likes my work and they trust me,” says Hofmeister. “And they’re open to spontaneity. They get what they get. I’m never going to let a piece go that was just for money … To say that I won’t sell out, isn’t to say that I haven’t. This isn’t about where I’ve been. It’s about where I’m at and where I’m going. I’m trying to stay as connected to myself as possible and not thinking about what someone wants to see … You give me anything and I believe that I can do something with it in the end, and whether people like it or they don’t like it, doesn’t matter.”
Whether it’s for therapeutic reasons, or because Hofmeister is compelled to put something into a piece, every inch of a painting is him on a canvas, and the emotional journey he took to complete the painting.
“When it comes to the work,” says Hofmeister, “I’m always trying to push myself into creating something that I’ve definitely not done before and imagery that, if I have done it, I’ve done it in an entirely new way and just pushing the boundaries of what I can come up with and what’s behind those ideas and where it’s coming from and just have it be more genuine and true to me … I know that a lot of my past paintings have been about things I’ve had trouble letting go of but now my paintings are about letting go.”