We sat down with one of Bali's most recognisable artists to talk all things art, inspiration, and Leonardo DiCaprio...
Few Bali artists have achieved the same reach as Irene Hoff. Her unmistakable canvases feature feminine faces and animalia layered in glorious nature and mixed media, often found adorning the walls of many high-end boho villas in Bali. And now, with her international popularity continuing to grow each year, her work is increasingly finding its way into homes across Oceania, America and Europe too…
It felt only right then that we called upon this talented artist to talk all things art, inspiration and where to find her work in Bali – after all, she’s called the Island of the Gods her home and muse for the past eight years while raising her family here, creating bodies of work that encompass the essence of everything she stands for…
Hi Irene! We love your work – can you tell us how you started out as an artist?
As a child I was always drawing, but my parents didn’t allow me to go to art school. So, while living in Vietnam about 14 years ago, my passion for drawing returned, and at that time I had a company that developed kids products so the creative juices were already flowing. The first painting I did was a collage for my oldest daughter, Noa, with her face and elements associated with her life. People loved it and asked for commissions, and that’s how it all started.
How would you describe your artwork?
At first glance my art feels light with balanced colours in a fresh setting, mixing paper and acrylic into thicker layers. At second glance, the art gives way to a deeper energy to those who are opening up to it.
What emotions do you hope people experience when looking at your art?
I hope my art inspires people and gives a moment of peace during a hectic day. A moment where a person can reconnect with themselves and where they feel empowered, hopeful and creative towards getting closer to the truth of one’s own nature and the talents that we bring into this world.
Do you have any tips for an emerging artist on how to tap into their own unique voice and/or get their work noticed on the global stage?
Whatever you want to achieve in life, there is a process of necessary steps. Firstly, you need to make sure you have people around you that are supportive or encouraging of your mission. Eliminate the non-supportive people and keep going on your mission. Secondly, never doubt you aren’t good enough. The more confident you are, the more the world will shift and match your energy. Lastly practice daily meditation, calm the mind so that you can access the creative energy all around us. It’s important to feel your own uniqueness and that special feeling that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.
What has been the most exciting moment in your art career so far?
Hard to say because each event is a great accomplishment. Of course, one of the highlights was the signature of Leonardo DiCaprio on my art piece, and also being published in the book ‘100 Artists of the Future’, curated and published by Contemporary Art Curators in 2019.
Wow! Tell us more about Leonardo DiCaprio!
To make a long story short, I had created an Orangutan painting that wildlife photojournalist and conservationist Paul Hilton absolutely loved. He needed funding for his Elephant projects so we combined forces and on a visit to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Paul mentioned the painting to Leonardo DiCaprio. One week later he came back with a signature on the painting from DiCaprio wishing us well with the project, so we auctioned the signed piece and donated the money to Paul’s wildlife project.
So what projects are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a book publication and my new series on canvas called ‘Inner Totem’.
What role do you believe your art plays in the broader social conversation today, specifically relating to your ‘Inner Totem’ series?
‘Inner Totem’ portrays women with colorful headpieces, combined with flowers, animals or symbols. This series came through my desire to reconnect and bring people closer to their true nature, overcoming their limiting beliefs and discovering their talents. It came about because I feel the world is out of balance and that we need to create space for the feminine energy, so we can tap into more magnetic, compassionate and creative qualities. I wish for a society where feminine and masculine will be more evenly balanced.
What do you love and hate most about your creative process?
I love that you can create something new! Art does not need words, it gives energy and stories. The way art is viewed has everything to do with where people are in their own lives and how they perceive their world, nothing to do with the artist at all. I do not hate anything about the creative process – let’s just say the things I like less are simply a part of life.
Thank you so much Irene! Where can our readers find your art in Bali and beyond?
They can visit me in my studio in Umalas in Bali, and follow me on social media on my Instagram page or on my website. I also have two shows coming up in Singapore, organised by Be One Gallery: one at the ArtSafe Gallery from 3rd – 17th July, and one at the ION Art Gallery from 20th – 26th October.
Words by Rebecca Foreman
Currently living the island life in Bali with her family, Rebecca fills her days with travelling, writing and reviewing, often with the kids in tow. Follow her bountiful island adventures on her Instagram page.