Below in that dreaded piece of pretentious garbage, the personal statement for my show. Part of the events listed in the coastal currents arts festival. I hate explaining my work. It’s like shoving pins through butterflies, you destroy half their Beauty to make them static and accessible. It’s a necessary evil though, when throwing six months of your life into artwork that will end up hidden in plain sight, buried amidst everyone else’s offerings , at the mercy of pre conceptions and competing against assorted schmoozers, wheel greasers and some monstrous egos. There are elements to coastal currents that have become hackneyed, tedious and in some cases downright dangerous. Hopefully my little bit will be none of these.
“Dweeblings in Love (and other matters of the heart)
I should have died.Dragging myself and my shopping up half a mile of steep hill in the bleakest of bleak midwinters while wearing a vintage army parka that weighs about the same as a four year old child. Unbeknownst to me I had severe angina, the really bad kind. With only for 4% of my main coronary artery left functioning I was lurching around town and up ladders, painting murals and the like. I was the proverbial dead man walking. Of course I didn’t know that at the time and that is what made it all the more shocking a month later when when I was confined to a hospital bed, wired up and told not to move until the hospital fixed my heart.
The work you see here represents my physical and mental journey back to wellness and my attempts to come to terms with all the trauma I have experienced this year. The imagery may seem quite random at first, but it all makes sense. Well sort of…
The general themes of life and death and my brush with it are represented by the great cliches of the momento mori. Skulls and flowers, with angels, devils and butterflies as signifiers of mortality and rebirth. Some of the drawings I created for this show are made up of words, repeating phrases, poems, prose, with the use of other languages both ancient and modern. They are a logical progression for me from cross hatching and shading in inks.
I am finding it hard to comprehend that I have tiny lattices of wire widening the arteries to my heart. It made me think of the ancient Japanese practice of kintsugi , the repairing of smashed ceramics with gold to rescue the irreplaceable. I have experimented in the use of gilding to represent this on a number of paintings.
I touched on the Catholic notion of the sacred heart in a few works as well as the organ’s use in anatomical illustrations. Strangely enough, the notion of the broken heart is actually a reality rather than a turn of phrase. Takotsubo, or cardiomyopathy, is where extreme stress, a break up for example, causes the heart’s chambers to temporarily distort into the shape of a clay pot that is used for the collection of octopuses by Japanese fishermen.
The brain and mind appear, in various guises, as the contemplation of my narrow avoidance of death and my experience of viewing my own heart beating during my angiogram and subsequent angioplasty and other physically intrusive aspects of the procedure shook my emotional state quite severely and the levels of stress I have lived under throughout my life have greatly damaged my pulmonary system.
Everyday I must take blood thinning drugs to prevent my having a stroke or heart attack. The medication is chemically similar to the rat poison strychnine. I have likened the absurdity of ingesting toxins on a daily basis for the benefit of my health with the strange irony that some of the most beautiful of fish are extremely poisonous, although I must point out that, to me, all fish are as I am highly allergic to them. I also find it amusing that the French word for fish is only one letter different from poison, poisson.
My avatars, the Dweeblings, have taken a back seat in many of the works (although they have made cameo appearances if you look hard enough) but elements of their world are represented in details such as the shapes of eyes and my habit of anthropomorphising animals and inanimate objects.
This year so far has not been easy, but hopefully I have gained a little wisdom and made the most of my experiences.
Chris Hoggins, August 2016
N.B There is also a second secret series of art works on show if you look carefully enough”
My work can be seen at the love cafe, st leonards on sea, throughout September.