TALKING TO PAINTER CHRIS HOOD ABOUT EMOJIS AND STARRY NIGHT
May 15th, 2015, by Artsy Editorial
On an unseasonably warm afternoon in early May, I met with painterChris Hood at his fifth-floor studio in East Harlem. The walls were lined with raw canvases, each one dotted with cartoons: bombs with frowning faces, floating eyeballs, and sexy smoking hearts. These are the beginnings of Hoodâ€™s signature back-to-front paintingsâ€”which have landed him in a new show in London.
Working in wet oils, Hood paints over these playful characters, purposely letting his pigments soak through to the other side, creating a cloudy, ephemeral image that he likens to an inside-out graphic tee. He wonâ€™t see what his actual painting looks like until the canvas is flipped around and stretchedâ€”a solid act of faith that works out quite well in practice. The cartoon motifs float in familiar landscapesâ€”theyâ€™re lifted from Vincent van Gogh, bringing the art giantâ€™s spiraling skies to new heights of psychedelia. The finished works are a mix of highbrow and lowbrow, control and chaos, tradition and innovation; these brave experiments are both aesthetically compelling and conceptually considered.
The Atlanta native (proudly sporting a Braves cap when we met) earned his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2010, and settled in New York soon after. This month marks an important milestone for the young artist, with the opening of a two-man exhibition at Rod Barton in London, where his work is shown alongside Danish artist Carl Mannovâ€™s concrete sculptural reliefs. And in New York, his name is on the tips of everyoneâ€™s tongues at the latest NADA fair. In advance of this momentous point in his career, Hood spoke to Artsy about this new body of work, his inspirations, and the unique process thatâ€™s garnering success for him.