About the Artist

Tanja Slawik-Hoffmann, alias Miss Goldfinger, radiates pure energy and vivacity. When she explains how her pictures come into being, her words are only interrupted by peals of laughter. It does not last long before the observer falls under her magic spell and finds himself eavesdropping on this enthralling cascade of knowledge, becoming ever-captivated by the paintings in the process. He very quickly realizes that his gaze is riveted to the canvases, almost as if he were mesmerized by their power. Eyes, huge eyes, fix him with their gaze and refuse to let go, compelling him to become involved and travel to the very core of this art.

Tanja Slawik-Hoffmann is currently concentrating on painting portraits of people and animals. A goat, a sheep, a pig, a cow - all kinds of animals that can be found grazing on the meadows around the artist's home. But we also see a giraffe and an elephant, putting in a somewhat unexpected and unusual appearance. From a height of 118 inch (3,00 meters), Gertrud winks at the observer with her huge wide eyes, fluttering her long lashes as she does so. The animals are usually painted from a frontal perspective, sometimes only the head is depicted, occasionally the thorax and the front legs, too. The animals use their eyes to connect with the human viewing them and, by means of their incredibly penetrating look, it is the animals which take on the active role in the relationship between human and creature. These pictures do not exude any trace of the idyllic "roaring deer" set against a perfect, romantic backcloth. Dark green forests and flower-scented meadows are nowhere to be seen. And it is not the image of a piece of meat that will eventually end up as a steak on your plate that springs to mind, either, when, for example, the observer looks at the portrait of Hildegard the cow. These animals are portrayed as personalities, individuals filled with pride and dignity.

The artist uses her camera to gather together motifs for her portraits, either in her near vicinity or on her travels across the globe. And when she arrives home, this kaleidoscope of impressions metamorphoses into paintings, the format of which only starts at 40 x 47 inch (100 x 120 cm). This is the absolute smallest size. Bigger compositions, however, present no problem. Why is this so? Because a small format simply does not reflect the very being of the artist. It would restrict that essential ingredient making up her character that strives towards the cornucopia of Life in all its varieties - without exhibiting any sign of greed. For Slawik-Hoffmann painting is not only synonymous with creative fulfillment but it also signifies a kind of sporting performance. When working on large-scale paintings, she is constantly in motion; she paints, distances herself to assess what has taken shape, then runs back to the canvas and continues painting. Rarely is she to be found in a phase of tranquility while she has a paint brush in her hand.

Tanja Slawik-Hoffmann detaches people from their original environment, in which her camera has caught them, and then focuses entirely on their faces and their expressions. Miss Goldfinger is drawn to the exotic variety of people. She adores the expressive eyes and sensuous lips of african people. The enthusiastic mother of four children attributes this predilection to a kind of "Baby Face" phenomenon, the characteristic cuteness of facial and body features that we find so attractive in babies and infants. The subjects portrayed are, at the outset, all strangers to the artist, who then proceeds to take them out of the realms of anonymity by bestowing upon her pictures names, sometimes almost poetic ones: Fernanda, Milla, African Queen, African Blues. And indeed we also quite frequently see portraits of well-known personalitities, such as Frida Kahlo, Jimi Hendrix, Muhammed Ali or even Barack Obama, whose inner souls the artist attempts to uncover through her painting.

The life of the Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, was exceedingly checkered, both in the private and in the political sense. Most of the photographs taken of her and her own self-portraits depict her as a rather severe woman whose thick eyebrows and facial hair cast a dark shadow over her face. However, in her interpretation of Frida, Tanja Slawik-Hoffmann turns to one particular photograph for inspiration and shows us a captivating woman of sensational beauty. Her features are finely sculpted, with wonderfully curved eyebrows framing her eyes. Frida looks out from her portrait with a serious air about her but, nevertheless, to the onlooker her expression appears open and honest. Within seconds any observer realizes that it is the eyes which are the enchanting element of this face and that they will not release their grip. All thoughts of withdrawal leave the beholder, he remains riveted and a tacit dialogue begins between the observer and the observed. Frida wears a blue ethnic-style dress decorated with delicate edging around the neck, large striking earrings and a grand-looking, chain-style necklace. Her voluminous hair has been plaited and put up with pink-colored ribbons - a hairstyle she favors in many portraits. The artist succeeds in bringing a spark of electricity into the picture by expertly mixing the colors of the clothes with the shades of the accessories and then setting the entire persona against the backcloth of a rather severe-looking, violet-colored wallpaper, embellished with ornamental leafwork. And this ornamentation is actually stuck onto the portrait backdrop.

This technique shows us the way in which Miss Goldfinger develops her paintings. A surface which is simply painted strikes her as far too monotonous. Her frequent answer to livening up portraits is the sticking of wallpaper, newspapers or wrapping paper onto the canvas in order to introduce structure-lending elements to her work. Paint is then layered over such materials, creating a variety of textures. One good example of this modus operandi is the portrait of Jimi Hendrix where the artist uses handmade paper to fashion the background in exquisite hues of golden-yellow.

Her paintings are born out of acrylic paint, oil colors, oil chalks, gilt and gold leaf. She mixes her favored techniques: she fills in surfaces, she sticks materials onto surfaces, she scrapes, she rubs, she uses her fingers, she paints over some areas and highlights certain aspects with just one or two strokes in the right place. Some stretches of canvas are simply not used and remain white. Slawik-Hoffmann's portraits therefore never have a uniformly-colored background. This effect always gives rise to a sensation of movement and draws a striking contrast to the animals and people depicted, subjects that tend to exhibit static body language. It is just the look that is the invisible link to the electrifying spark pervading the picture.

When she paints, the artist's fingers are constantly involved in the action. They are always to be found dipped in her treasure trove of paint pots. And because she uses a great deal of gold, her fingers are often also immersed in this beautiful lustrous material. Traces of gold linger on the artist's hands and have led to her pseudonym of Miss Goldfinger.

Since the beginning of the 90s, Tanja Slawik-Hoffmann has been developing sculptures created out of organic matter and synthetic resin. Her first project was an objet d'art made of bananas cast in resin, later apples were added and eventually a complete fruit basket evolved, packed with small individual blocks of synthetic resin holding preserved fruit.
A pig's head, a pig's heart and a slice of leg have been preserved for posterity by the artist using the same techniques. The block of synthetic resin does not follow clear precise lines but shows traces of the way it has been handled and crafted. Its edges are broken in the same way as a huge piece of ice is ruptured.

Transience and time are the issues that Tanja Slawik-Hoffmann concerns herself with when she sculpts such works. Her aim is to preserve all things that are subjected to the laws of Mother Nature, in other words those things subjected to the whims of the Grim Reaper. This is particularly true of newspapers although they are not organic matter. In their case, it is the news that is subjugated to the march of time and thus doomed to a rapid end. The 115-cm-high block of artificial resin bearing the title, "Pillar Of Time", was cast in single layers and now forms a glass coffin for a variety of daily newspapers dating from the year of 1992.

In many of these works, one is aware of the irony of it all and one feels a slight touch of criticism directed at us humans and our codes of behavior. In the sculpture entitled "A Swine Of A Thing" from 2001, the artist has cast small humanized piglets made of plastic in clear resin that has been shaped as hemispheres. These were then placed around a ringwurst. The arrangement is very reminiscent of a cake. The icing is represented by small pink-colored pearls and the entire composition is perfected by a white doily.

Dr. Bettina Broxtermann
Art Historian