As an artist when you have achieved the considerable commercial success and wide acclaim that allows you to stay under the public radar while ever busy working on new projects and pushing artistic boundaries ,it must seem surreal, challenging and perhaps frightening to look down from your ivory tower and stay focussed on the work in hand. Christian Hook handles fame easily because he is too busy ignoring it, fiercely guarding his privacy whilst he ploughs ahead looking for the impossible.
“If it can be done I am not interested. What challenges me and excites me is to find ways of doing things that are impossible. I think that in the last year I have done less work than what I used to do because I have been focussing on threads and opportunities where I can better reflect who I am. I’ve only been taking on projects when I can immerse myself completely without having to think galleries, money, clients and any of that. Really it’s to make my art more pure. I haven’t moved away from painting but I have been drawn to music because of its cross culture with fashion and jewellery like in video clips. In painting that doesn’t happen so I took inspiration from Japanese kimono culture and used gold leaf and gold chains to give that collection a more musical feel”.
Christian Hook is not looking for the next big thing because he feels that approach is flawed and enslaves artists, compromising their inspiration and weighing them down.
“It’s like looking for happiness. It’s a fleeting moment. You can try but the attempt will make you miserable. It’s the result of something else, it’s not up to you and it’s not the point anyway. You just do your best and the better you get at doing something, the better the feedback you get from the results. That excitement then makes you want to do more and that is the maximum prize. Really I’m very private compared to other artists and I’ve done a lot in the last two years but nothing of it is published yet because these things take a long time to come to fruition.”
“The real artists in history were always super sensitive and private people. I researched this because I was super sensitive as a child. Only one in ten people are super sensitive and that is how nature works. We live inside creative art. Everything around us has been conceived and created by another person before us and we all live in their creative minds. That is art all around us and nature provides those people who conceive and create new things so that we can evolve. Those people find everything in life very difficult and painful. They cannot be unfaithful to themselves because their first love is their art. They don’t understand each other and even when they are with other people they are always alone in their heads.”
“Real artists are very shy of fame because they can lose themselves in it. I’ve seen it a million times-those artists lose track of themselves. You have to be completely selfish. If you consider others in your work then it becomes collaboration. You cannot water yourself down. You have to surrender totally to your inspiration. You can’t consider the public’s approval because then the work is not real.”
Hook has just been invited to be included in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection. He was still reeling from the shock of the news that a prestigious British museum has honoured him. It seems that English and Scottish art lovers have embraced him in a big way as his paintings hang in many of their institutions, galleries and homes across the UK. It gets better nearer home too – the people behind the successful TV series Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) have engaged him as the artist for their next project and also commissioned him to write the music for it. All negotiations have been now been completed and Christian has been to Madrid to see them. He is very excited about this and that drives his current music.
I’ve known Hook for a very long time and have never been able to separate Christian from his music. He is a musical and poetic force and although he has found considerable success in painting he still pines for success in music creation and uses his thorough work formula and contacts to push the envelope in that direction. His eyes light up as I give him feedback on some of the new music which he shares with me during our interview. My eyes also light up as my ears immerse in the haunting music which will grace the silver screen. I feel privileged.
“I still like to be involved with scientists and I love the science of the mind as there are other dimensions that we don’t yet understand. I have new concepts for digital art which have never been done before. I love new exploring new ideas and although my volume of work seems to be less, for me the results are more spiritual in a sense. I like to play around this area because the marriage of art and science excites me. It is what I am passionate about. I’m working with a scientist at the moment and we are exploring water as in the sea.”
“Although it’s said that water hasn’t got a memory the ice ages tell us that every time life reappears after an ice age there has been evolution. Water can live in many stages and it’s an essential part of our make-up. I can see myself working in projects about the sea as an element and our emotions’ impact on the sea. We are the sea and we have to work together to understand how we can continue to evolve together.”
“Sound also fascinates me. Everything around us is sound and every sound has a vibration and a frequency. I am not trying to force music and art together. I question what is music for, what do we do with it and how does it continue to make sense now. I know that music informs our emotions and that we can manipulate music in many ways. It’s not about a new instrument or genre. It’s about layering it and then stripping it back to find what still resonates with us that we want to keep.” This is the process that Christian uses in his painting. He will try and capture movement by a process of stripping back layers and adding dimension and colour to create movement. He creates a language with the canvas that will inform him when the subject has been fully explored to his inspiration’s criteria.
His eyes light up again and this time he tells me about a dog that he recently painted as a commission. Hook does not take commissions any more. He doesn’t need to. He will however fully immerse himself in one if the idea excites him. In a gallery encounter with a married couple, the conversation came up about the metaphysical and the science and auras, which fascinates Christian of course and this couple have an old dog which they love to bits and they asked after a while if Christian would attempt to paint a portrait their dog’s aura. Impossible right? Impossible is nothing as Nike say in their logo.
This impossibility is exactly what sprung Hook into action. He contacted an expert (synergist) he knew and had previously worked with. He sent her videos of the dog to work with and she also suggested another source. So there were three people involved in the discussion. He then researched the colours in the aura spectrum and finally came up with a painting of the dog in two dimensions at once! I saw the painting on his Ipad and it floored me – so captivating and multidimensional that I could almost acquaint myself with it – being a dog lover myself. It’s a large format painting he tells me.
“It has to be something impossible like that because I don’t know how to do it. That excites me because I have to find a way to incorporate everything I know about the dog. Its age, name, video and the pictures that I took of it and also what my sources said about the aura. When I started to paint, it was no longer the portrait of a dog. To me it was much more. To me the challenge was to add everything that I had uncovered and got excited about into the painting. It was difficult and challenging but that is what always produces the best results. I don’t think about it while I’m doing, it I just have to do it. Thinking comes only after I finish a work. It’s then that I might add a line or something else. The thinking comes later if not you spoil the work. The playfulness in the work is important.”
Christian Hook has no pompous ideas about who he is or what he has achieved. Instead he worries that his name becomes a brand. It brings with it an expectation from over seventy galleries in London who are eagerly waiting for his next offering. That translates into pressure and the fame which he retreats from. He says that he has to stop thinking about everything and play with his art for real. He must play without thinking about anyone and he must stay away from other artists although he loves to see other artists’ work. He says that he has to be away from everything and working. Always working, as purely as possible and without deferring to the pressures and demands that being ‘HoooK’ (his artistic signature) brings.
“Let people think what they want. It doesn’t really matter. This is not theatre. I‘m always working really hard on different stuff but it doesn’t appear that way. Even if my projects didn’t get anywhere, the people that I work with know the value of the conceptual thinking that I bring to the table so even if the projects don’t materialise and they move on to something else, nothing has gone to waste.” I submit to him that he has ‘fertilized’ them, so to speak. “Exactly! That is what I do all the time anyway. My concepts can exist by themselves, they don’t need validation from others but it’s always great to be recognized of course.”
At this point I wanted to steer the conversation towards a final thought that might reveal another clue as to what drives this restless genius that is Christian Hook to push boundaries that seek to marry art and science. Does this quest for the impossible ever make him make him unhappy?
“Happiness is a fleeting emotion. It is the result of something else and cannot be chased because it cannot be found in things. Although pain is not pleasant, when it comes it’s full of realizations, wisdom, changes etc. Just like one cannot chase happiness, one cannot be concerned with the end result of a creation. It is the process itself that one needs to fall in love with in order to progress. In that process there is a measure of suffering and ultimately suffering is what makes us great and what we learn from it is what makes us stronger. When I involve myself with scientists I forget who I am. I just want to create and I need to get on with it. That might even sound childish but I need to play for real in order to be real.”