Christopher Martin Hoff
This morning I logged onto Facebook and discovered that Seattle’s art community has lost a great painter and wonderful human being. Words fail, so here are some of Christopher’s own words, from a 2010 interview with Joey Veltkamp:
It also just so happened that I started reading [Moby Dick] in November, the very month Ishmael begins his tale and like him I too was experiencing a “damp, drizzly November of my soul”. Though its effects were unexpected, I quickly recognized the influences of the book on my daily “urban meditations”. The ruined skeletons of structures caught in limbo by the financial crisis became characters from the book, graffiti and street signs became “Belshazzar’s writing on the wall” (literally), telephone poles became mastheads and wires, whale lines. I felt really moved by the whole thing so I went with it. Looking back on things objectively, though I think the work is strong, I am also aware of their inability to approach what is truly horrible and ultimately most beautiful in the book. I find this “failure” interesting, and though I’ve made attempts in the work to visually undermine each of the paintings in subtle formal ways: spaces that lead into walls, the removal of structural supports so that if real, the building couldn’t support it’s own weight, and other apparitions/aberrations, each painting inherently falls short. Hopefully they at least fail in intriguing ways and are compelling enough to trigger further “digging” when considered with the chapter in Moby Dick to which each is linked. “Antiques buried beneath antiquities” as it may.
Given the inherent imperfection of representation, all art is, on some levels, a failure. May we all aspire, then, like Christopher, to set ourselves up for certain failure again and again, day in and day out, in increasingly interesting and brokenly beautiful ways.