Christopher Martin Hoff

Christopher Martin Hoff - The Chase in his Wake

Christopher Martin Hoff. The Chase In His Wake, oil on linen, 30" x 22"

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.

Christopher Martin Hoff - Ahab

Christopher Martin Hoff. Ahab, oil on linen, 28" x 36"

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.

Christopher Martin Hoff

Daniel Carrillo. Wet plate collodion portrait of Christopher Martin Hoff.

~ by emilypothast on March 30, 2012.

One Response to “Christopher Martin Hoff”

  1. One day Franc Guerrero emailed me to tell me I had to check out this Christopher Martin Hoff guy, who was working in a similar conceptual arena. I was amused and delighted to find that this guy, my new hero, had painted several buildings that I had also chosen to paint.

    Later I saw his work in person at Linda Hodges Gallery, and realized that he was still years ahead of me in experience and still casting a shadow over me conceptually. He’d painted a billboard that I’d tentatively started staking out for one of my own paintings. It was inspiring. I started calling him “future me” and “my stalker”.

    A year ago I got a call from Roy Powell, who told me that my stalker was right outside my front door. And sure enough for several months he was painting on the Olive/Denny/Summit traffic island. Literally directly outside my front door. He then started painting directly outside the door to the upstairs studios I was working from on 11th. It was hilarious and delightful.

    I had a few pleasant conversations with him, but never let on how much fun it was to have him around Seattle, and to unexpectedly run into him painting. Although he didn’t know it, his dedication to his art has been a friendly challenge to me for years. And although Christopher Martin Hoff didn’t really know me, I’ll be missing him greatly.

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