biography | statement

John Hovig
Instagram

 

Born New York State, 1968.

Lives and works in Houston, Texas

 

BIO

 

I was born in 1968, in New York State. I have a bachelor's degree (BS) in Electrical Engineering, and a master's degree (MS) in Computer Science. I became a full-time artist in 2011, after serving more than a decade as the CTO of a small internet software company.

 

STATEMENT

 

My practice is about achieving systematic visual complexity. My goals are to move the eye around my images without stoppage, and achieve visual interest despite specific physical rules and constraints.

 

My primary media are drawings (ink); paintings (screen­print + acrylic); digital prints (photography + photoshop) and woodblock prints (often watercolored by hand).

 

Previously an engineer and software developer, I was systematic and analytical by trade. As an artist, I distance myself from technology’s promises of perfection, but take full advantage of its immeasurable creative potential.

 

In a nutshell, I know what perfections looks like, and I know what a machine can do. I want to take the viewer as far from machines as possible, while keeping them in a world of systematic complexity. Is my work an homage to mechanization, or is it an indictment?

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

 

Single-Line Drawings. Wiry, cloud-like abstractions, non-objective expressions of motion and energy, drawn entirely by hand (eschewing technology entirely.) I begin with a sweeping gesture in a thicker line, then continue with a thinner pen, sometimes even a third, adding increasing detail until done. I keep the undulating calligraphic result as abstract as possible, so every viewer can see what they wish.

 

A drawing is finished when I feel my eye can traverse the entire figure willingly and without impediment. In the black-and-white drawings, each sub-region of latticework acts as a kind of stepping-stone. In the color drawings, avenues emerge where shades of higher and lesser intensity interact.

 

The looped, rectangular and color drawings each have their own set of rules—unwritten but systematic—to help me focus on the common goal: to move the eye through contrast and line density rather than mark-making or figure composition.

 

Clips & Ruler Paintings. (Also woodcuts). Paper clips, portrayed roughly, arranged symmetrically—albeit messily—around a slashing ruler. Begun as an examination of cross-hatching (inspired by my sighting of an office-supply van on a Houston street), they turned into a visual pun on Jasper Johns’s Corpse and Mirror, after I realized I was beginning to tread much the same ground.

 

I’ve heard many interpretations of these works: teeming bacteria, swarming insects, office workers, crowding masses, or just abstract patterns. In any case, I like to think of them as a comment on homogeneity and perfectibility, the machine-made paper clips turned into more organic, tactile constructions through aesthetic and photographic manipulations.

 

Like the Single-Line Drawings, they move the eye from one grouping of clips to another—indeed, every paper clip is a single line—but also from one color to another. Not only do I limit myself to paper clips—which are harder to turn into non-trivial cross-hatched patterns than I first imagined—but I also limit myself to four colors (plus black) in order to maximize the impact each color can communicate.

 

And believe it or not, the Single-Line Drawings have their inception in my attempts to depict these paper clip patterns using a pen, ultimately leading to the complex drawings they have now become.

 

Mandalas. I take photos of my artwork, either the Clips & Ruler Paintings (or the sculptures upon which they were based), or the Single-Line Drawings, and turn them into kaleidoscopic complications using a computer, then have them printed on circular aluminum disks by a photo-printing firm.

 

PREFERRED MEDIA

 

Digital Prints. I was introduced to MacPaint in 1990, with Illustrator and Photoshop soon thereafter. I use computers as the modern-day equivalent of scissors, glue and crayons. A “computerized” look is less important than the ease with which computers allow collage and photomanipulation.

 

Screenprint and Acrylic on Canvas. An extension of my digital practice, screenprinting allows me to manipulate photos viscerally, and acrylic glazing allows me to add unique hues with handmade brushstrokes. Reproduction lets me repeat the same image with different colors, inviting you to consider the effects of variation.

 

Woodcuts. A traditional printmaking technique, low-tech and visceral. I draw an image onto a panel of wood, then carve it, coat it with ink, and run it under a heavy cylinder against a sheet of paper. I carve with rough strokes, and paint afterward with bright watercolor. I often start with a digital composition, but after carving, the image becomes a new work entirely. Examples: Cycladic Rider 1; Legend; Huile sur Toile.

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

 

2016

 

Sawyer Yard Revealed , The Silos, Houston, Texas, Jacob Spacek, juror
Images Included: Canon (2006)

 

Selected Works from the Artists of Sawyer Yards, Silver Street Studios, Houston, Texas, Clint Willour, juror

Images Included: Borne (2006)

 

2015

 

The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas (George Scheer, juror)
Images Included: Jewel of Jeopardy (Leviathan #2) (Color Test Proof) (2015)

 

 

PrintHouston: PrintTX, Nicole Longnecker Gallery, Houston Texas. Karen Kunc, Exhibition Juror.

 Images Included: Huile sur Toile (Blue Reduction) (2013)

 

 

2012

 

35 Years of Printmaking, Glassell School, Houston Texas. Patrick Palmer, curator.

Images Included: Madonna & Child (2006)

 

2007

 

The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas. Rita Gonzales, juror.
Images Included: Leonardo Had Only One Question (2007) [study for LA Shows are Cool (2013)]

 

New American Talent: 22, Arthouse, Austin, Texas. Anne Ellegood, juror.
Images Included: Structure (2006), Trance (2006)

 

Positive/Negative Twenty-Two, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee. Toby Kambs, juror.
Images Included: Lantern (2006)

 

2006

 

The Big Show, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas. Dominic Molon, juror.
Images Included: Quince (2006), Cress (2006)

 

PUBLICATIONS

2015 

 

EXU Magazine, Robert Boyd
Images Included: Jewel of Jeopardy (Leviathan #2) (Color Test Proof) (2015)

PRESS 

 

2017

 

Houston’s Most Important Art Auction Moves to Winter Street. Catarina Williams, Papercity Magazine (online), November 6, 2017. Artwork featured in slideshow curated by Catherine D Anspon.

 

Tips for buying art for your home - it's easier than you think, Diane Cowen, Houston Chronicle, June 22, 2017 (extensively quoted in the article, photo and artwork accompanying)

 

Houston's best art galleries and museums, Catherine D. Anspon, PaperCity, June 10, 2017

(labeled as Samara Gallery's "best bet" alongside David Graeve)

 

2006 

 

Lawndale's The Big Show opens, Kim Hughes, Houston Chronicle, July 20, 2006

(quoted in article, installation view of two artworks accompanying)

 

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY

 

2011 - Left software industry, began art full-time.
2004 - 2006 - Coursework at Glassell School of Art (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston TX)
1994 - M.S. in Computer Science (concentrating on Artificial Intelligence) (Champaign IL)
1992 - B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (Boston MA)

 

EXTRA LINKS

 

http://www.artistrunwebsite.com/blog/2017/Office+Supplies+as+Motif%3A+Art+by+John+Hovig

 

http://www.click2houston.com/news/sawyer-heights-emerges-as-creative-hub-for-houston

 

http://www.artistrunwebsite.com/blog/1211/Mechanical+Documentation:+Art+by+John+Hovig

 

http://www.burningbonespress.com/artists/

 

http://www.thesilosonsawyer.com/silos-artists-gallery/