If Zagreb can be said to have a recognizable look, then the art of Igor Hofbauer is one of its key ingredients. Hofbauer’s instantly identifiable posters, flyers and programmes for alternative rock club Močvara have become ubiquitous elements of the city’s street-level identity. As well as his poster work, Hofbauer has published comic strips, designed book jackets, and painted highly arresting murals inside both the Močvara club and the SPUNK music bar. Hofbauer’s style mixes film noir, fifties’ Sci-Fi, Russian constructivism and the gritty cityscapes of suburban Zagreb to create a seductive urban aesthetic.
However it’s the Mediterranean holiday landscape that comes to the fore in Hofbauer’s latest work Grimizna Laguna (“Crimson Quays”, published by URK/Močvara; mochvara.), the dark tale of a dystopian holiday resort co-scripted by British travel writer Jonathan Bousfield. Combining elements of science fiction, political thriller and grotesque nightmare, it is a fitting visual companion to Hofbauer’s earlier collection of dark, self-penned stories, Mister Morgen (available in English from Canada’s Conundrum press; conundrumpress.com). His earlier Prison Stories, a collection of comic-book tales set in a disturbing world of suffocation and paranoia, has become a cult title among Europe’s alternative comic-reading set. Hofbauer’s graphic narratives display both a strong sense of place and ambiguous psychological depths; and pretty everything he produces works beautifully as an illustrated artefact whether you can follow the story or not. He is currently working on Doberman, a book crammed with visually sumptuous one-page narratives that looks set to be his most ambitious work so far.