So, two years after first watching Christian Hook win the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2014, I finally got to see his work at an exhibition. After watching that show, I set my sights on one day seeing his original work, and I managed to do that this weekend at the Clarendon Fine Art Gallery in Mayfair, London.
I’ve been following Christian’s journey on social media, and via three dedicated Sky Arts programmes, where he painted portraits of Mick Hucknall, Sue Johnston and Fabrice Muamba, and I’m fascinated by his style of disrupting moments in time to represent layers of a vision. This creates such movement and intrigue, as parts of the painting appear to be missing, the way details would be missing in our visual memory of a moment in time.
Hook’s exhibition displayed his new collection of paintings, and also launched his new book La Búsqueda. The collection also included the three portraits mentioned above and it was wonderful to see them having watched each show.
It was just brilliant being up close enough to the paintings to see in detail the technique, the colours, the textures and actually the different surfaces that Christian is experimenting with – my favourite being ‘mylar paper’ which is the black film used in cameras. This created a really interesting finish on some of the paintings – my absolute winner being of a cute whippet on a rug (that’s what I’m looking at here, but the detail is lost in the photo unfortunately).
I am so grateful to have managed to get to London during this exhibition. The icing on the cake would have been to meet him in person, but I couldn’t make it to the launch evening, so my next ambition would be to see Christian paint in real time and learn so much more about his techniques and just how quickly he can create amazing work. In fact, this painting was of a 30 min sitting with actor Simon Callow – yep, 30 mins!!
Here are some of my other favourites from the show.