Artist Interview: Chris Hood’s Process And Paint

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This week we chatted with NYC-based painter Chris Hood to find out a little bit more about his most recent work—abstracted mixed media and traditional oil-on-canvas pieces—that pull from a variety of contact points in visual culture. Hood’s curious arrangement of imagery feels as though it’s connected to some larger narrative, and it’s interesting to see what inspires his process. Full interview after the jump.

Chris Hood
BD: “Can you speak a little bit to the process that goes into creating these works?”

CH: “Regarding my work, most of it involves a process of translation of some sorts. I really believe in the power of images- the way they can needle in to your brain, but I think my generation has a healthy skepticism regarding images perhaps because of just the sheer number and ease of access to them but also we are much more aware of internet fakes that circulate on an equal level. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words but I think that has reversed a great deal.  I am also interested in just how easily, in a few casual gestures, an image can be abstracted and tangibility begins to slip away. My work touches on this by utilizing images that are abstracted in their own making. It can start with something I have found, a camera phone image, or material culled from the internet, but by translating it back and forth between physical and digital media something else begins to take shape. If a work, for instance, began with an image taken on my cellphone I might print it, cut it, scan it, reprint and leave it outside for a few days or more. Some of the works also start when I stretch the clean canvas with hands covered in wet paint, or wet paintings will dry touching face to face -  in that way the canvas records the physical process of its own creation. It is a casual yet methodical process that is primarily just a lot of looking.”

Chris Hood

BD: “What sorts of themes or ideas are feeding your work at present?”

CH: “The images that I am interested in, on the other hand, tend to be rather banal in subject matter – a palm tree, an antacid label, clipart, and fruits and vegetables are always a favorite. As tired as they may now be, i cant help but be interested in the life-cycle of internet memes and their relationship to the images they appropriate. They sort of cannibalize them to nothingness, you know. Some poor guy gets his grade school picture tossed around online and then he is essentially inseparable from it, then the joke dies and then there is a meme about the original meme and so on and so forth until an empty shell of bizarre proportions is left behind. I am not sure how much of significance can be gleaned from the internet that the internet doesn’t already do better, but it occurs to me they are archetypes of entropy and I see that as something I pursue in my paintings. I mean a cat is just a dumb cat but now people think of them slightly different and a perspective is shaped. They’re like Cezanne’s apples. Rather than making art about the internet, however, i simply see parallels in my paintings that touch on notions of style, meta-awareness, and the odd forms these translations make.”

Chris Hood

BH: “Any non-visual sources you’re particularly inspired by right now?”

CH: “I am also inspired by advances in deep space exploration and the ‘abstractions’ that produces. Its boggling to see an image of a multi-colored blob and realize that blob is a hundred million light years across. The notion of looking outward and capturing the edge- a hint of something that could fundamentally change our worldview fascinates me, much like early daguerreotypes might have been for people in the 19th century. I have recently been interested in opera and other theater as well, particularly the Japanese post-war avant garde – Butoh and the films of Terayama. The drama in these things are wild and intense and it has the ability to circumvents language and science in a deep way. They are absurd, passionate, and challenging.”

Chris Hood Chris Hood

BD: “What freedoms and/or challenges do you find in painting as an art form?”

CH: “I find that the possibilities of painting are so incredibly vast that its ability to constantly be reformed and manipulated never ceases to amaze me. It purports to be something approachable, collectable, and visually satisfying, but often its best examples are enigmatic, base, and strangely inert. It is also a challenging medium because it sits on such slippery ground with countless variables. One misstep and it can slide out from under your feet, but to be too controlling and self conscious can seal it up in a body bag.  However, it is JUST a painting after all and there is freedom in knowing there is more to make. My favorite painting is always the next one.”

BD: “Where can we catch your upcoming projects?”

CH: “Some upcoming projects include an exhibition with some other amazing artists at Et al. in San Francisco which opens April 26th. I will be be showing at NADA in New York in May and am also planning an installation of paintings in the canals of Venice. It is an exciting time to be busy!”