ANNIE B HOGIN
I loved speaking to Hodgin during lockdown about her practice, her dream dinner party, her favourite historical artists, diet pepsi and cats.
I loved her beautiful answer when discussing starting and finishing her works:
“I start with what I consider a seed. It’s usually centered around some very specific idea that won’t go away: a woman leaning on a table looking over her shoulder, a mushroom cloud, blue on black, a feast. When the ideas won’t leave I know they’ll inevitably become paintings.”
“I’ll do a few very (very) rough sketches to work out basic composition and decide other visual elements I want to include. Sometimes I’ll pull those elements from a massive notebook I have full of words separated by category (animal, plant, shape, concept, etc.) that mean something particular to me. Sometimes not, sometimes they just come. Color, mark-making and other stylistic choices I have to work out on the canvas, and the process tends to vary by piece. I always do a first-pass underpainting, though.”
Annie, tell me about your artistic process, and how each work comes to be? How do you know when a work is complete?
I start with what I consider a seed. It’s usually centered around some very specific idea that won’t go away: a woman leaning on a table looking over her shoulder, a mushroom cloud, blue on black, a feast. When the ideas won’t leave I know they’ll inevitably become paintings. I’ll do a few very (very) rough sketches to work out basic composition and decide other visual elements I want to include. Sometimes I’ll pull those elements from a massive notebook I have full of words separated by category (animal, plant, shape, concept, etc.) that mean something particular to me. Sometimes not, sometimes they just come. Color, mark-making and other stylistic choices I have to work out on the canvas, and the process tends to vary by piece. I always do a first-pass underpainting, though.
Knowing a work is complete is purely subconscious. I just know when I’m done, and I very rarely rework paintings later.
How would you describe your work in three words?
Portentous, peculiar, human
What would you say is the most significant aspect of your art? And how did this come about?
Probably an overarching (but not random) strangeness. I’ve always loved the uncanny, the surreal, the unsettling. It hits me in what I would almost characterize as a spiritual place. I try to make paintings that aren’t purely strange for strangeness’ sake, though. Ideally there’s more at work.
What is, if you have one, your preferred location to create?
My studio is a corner of my dine-in kitchen (which we never dine in because I’ve completely taken it over). I stay up very late and work most effectively at night, so having a work space always available in my home is essential to me.
What is your studio like Annie, and what are your artist essentials?
It’s relatively chaotic but small enough that the chaos is manageable. I’m terrible at maintaining organization. Artist essentials: my wooden palette. My oil paints. Sunflower oil. Lavender oil essence (my thinner—awesome because it’s non-toxic, although the smell can be overpowering). And music! Usually Steely Dan, K-pop, or an early aughts alternative mix. I wish I could listen to podcasts but find them too distracting.
Annie, if you were to describe yourself as a colour, what would it be and why?
Some kind of deep blue I think. Blues have always resonated with me so it feels right to identify with one.
Can you pick a piece of your artwork and tell me a bit about it?
I’ll talk about my painting Intrusion. As here, my current paintings always feature a nude woman alone. I love painting representationally, although I don’t prefer to overly render, and I love painting the human figure. A female figure feels natural since I identify as a woman and my work feels deeply personal. She’s nude because I’m disinterested in the limitations clothing imposes and the ways it causes people to place a figure: setting a time, a style, even a socioeconomic status. Nudity also appeals to me as a rejection of limits I formerly placed on myself from my upbringing as a fundamentalist Baptist. She’s alone because isolation is a very compelling idea for me. Another figure with which to interact, like clothes, feels like an unwelcome interruption.
There are really many intrusions happening here: the vines (even passing through the turkey), the branch, the boar, and perhaps most significantly whatever she’s gazing at over her shoulder: the unseen. Things are clearly not as they should be; there’s a sense of dis-ease. Doom is something I enjoy exploring: the moment before a world implodes. Compositionally I knew I wanted very strong diagonal elements and subdued colors outside the candlelight. I like the way the reds are clustered right around the center of the painting. Incidentally, the boar was originally conceived as a hound of some kind, gnawing something, but for some reason I couldn’t make it work: that boar insisted on existing.
What questions drive your practice Annie? What are the focuses and themes of your work?
I would divide them into two categories--theoretical and painterly. Theoretical: Trauma, and how we survive it in ways that affect us for good and for ill; how it shapes our spirit. Why we even want to survive in such an often-brutal world. Isolation and dealing with our existential loneliness. The often-cruel caprice of the universe. Decay. Spirituality to a certain degree. The juxtaposition of life with death, beauty with ugliness. Just really lighthearted, fun stuff obviously, ha.
Painterly: how can I best turn this seed of an idea into a compelling composition, a painting that deserves consideration?
Finish this sentence: “I can’t live without…”
Serious: my family
Fun: Diet Pepsi and cats
If you could own one piece of artwork in the world, as if money or likelihood was no issue, what would it be and why?
Georgia O’Keeffe, Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV (or literally anything she touched). She was my first love painterly-wise. I’d worship it daily.
What do you feel makes a great exhibition?
Strong work. Space and quiet to consider it.
What do you want to see more of in the art world?
Equitableness. Kindness and respect rooted in real action.
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time:
a) what would the meal be
b) who would it be with?
I’d love to share a meal (probably a burrito in a fabulous Mexican restaurant) with Minnie Evans. I’d probably be too full for the food from eating up everything she said.
Favourite historical female artist?
I can’t pick only one! Georgia O’Keeffe, Minnie Evans, Leonora Carrington, Gertrude Abercrombie, Mary Fedden, Miyoko Ito, Agnes Pelton, Hilma af Klimt
Favourite current practicing female artists and their instagram handles (as many as you like?)? Rosa Loy @rsloy, Katherine Bradford @kathebradford, and Jennifer Packer…I’m only going to allow myself 3, all painters, or it will get out of hand. Check out whoever I follow! There are so many incredible ones!
Who should She Curates interview next and their instagram handles?
Alison Chen @_alisonchen, Cathy Tabbakh @cathytabbakh, Sarah Arriagada @sarah_arriagada