Christian Hook Has Found His 'Ki'

Christian Hook Has Found His 'Ki'

The Spanish artist focuses his most recent collection on vividly depicting time, space, and spiritual energy.

The Spanish artist focuses his most recent collection on vividly depicting time, space, and spiritual energy.

Text: AJ Longabaugh

Born in Gibraltar, Spain, acclaimed artist Christian Hook presented his most recent collection at the 2018 Art New York presented with Maddox Gallery. After studying illustration at London's Middlesex University followed by a successful career if illustration, Hook turned to lecturing on that art at the Royal College of Art. The artist has also been the recipient of the 'Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year', winning a commission to paint the stage and screen star Alan Cumming for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Hook's newest body of work is a deeper look at the roots and details between the connections of ceremonial traditions and time. "One day I walked into an exhibition by Antonio Lopez, one of the most famous artists to ever come out of Spain, and one of the pieces on display was this video of Lopez painting a singular piece over the course of ten years, creating a scenic Madrid every year during the same time of year. Essentially, he created a time machine. The moment I saw that painting I thought to myself, 'If he can capture that in ten years, I convey that with my work in ten minutes or even ten seconds.' I started taping videos of subjects and letting them change. I would freeze the video and paint every layer, and I began pushing myself to capture time in different ways. Now it’s always present in my work."

The artist headed to the East and spent many months traveling to various regions to gain further conceptual inspiration for the collection. "I love classical subjects, but I also embrace the abstract. I went to the East and was trying to find proof within certain works of truth or spirituality actively passing through it. I went to see buddhists and other spiritual leaders and groups, but just wasn’t finding it."

Heading to Kyoto, he focused on witnessing and studying cultural practices and the detailed speeds in which they were executed and processed. "I was fascinated by the tea ceremony, which is revered not just as a ceremonial tradition, but an art, and in the culture it’s the most glorified tradition because it’s for everyone. Whether you are poor or you are very rich, the giving of something with the greatest attention during the gifting is a very humbling experience. It is learned practice that takes massive amounts of engagement and time for a Japanese woman to fully learn how to execute the tea ceremony. In these works, I tried to capture the gracefulness and speed in which every act is performed."

The second concept within the collection was inspired after his encounter with a Japanese master calligrapher who showed him the power of 'Ki', the alleged spiritual energy within all human beings. "The calligrapher would pick up his brush, he would charge it using a process called 'Ki' and pass the energy through every stroke. He then would execute a stroke without the 'Ki' and would then blow up both of the works afterword to compare. The one with the 'Ki' would have a pattern to it and the one without would have dissonance. So I tried it and I achieved an energetic result. I went into my next work, using a different primer underneath and painting with bigger brushes to pass the energy through the work. If you look these paintings, you can see massive sweeps of electricity in some ways, honoring the gracefulness and speed of the actions and traditions that are being portrayed: time, space, and a spiritual energy."

Only a glimpse into this incredibly gifted artist's larger body of work, take a look at the inspired collection below.



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