Christian Hook

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014

The paintings of Christian Hook are rooted in tradition yet brim with freshness and vitality. The past and the present collide in each piece, creating alternating perspectives on one subject. There is a fascination with classical art and the broken image combined with an exploration of time and motion through subsequent layers of transparent paint.

Christian was named as Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014. The tense final, broadcast on Sky Arts at Christmas, was held at the National Portrait Gallery in London and was the culmination of a 10 month search for the most talented portrait artist in the UK and Ireland. Christian won with a portfolio of work completed throughout the series including his final two pieces, a commission portrait of former two time world champion boxer Amir Khan and a portrait painted live in the gallery of acclaimed actor Sir Ian McKellen. His prize was £10,000 commission to paint a portrait of award-winning actor Alan Cumming for The Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Gallery Director Christopher Baker said: “This extraordinary portrait celebrates the art of performance. It’s a remarkable tribute to a widely admired actor and an impressive work of painterly drama, which displays the skills of a talented artist.”

Christian studied illustration at Middlesex University, London before establishing a career as an illustrator for Disney and later lecturing in illustration at the Royal College of Art. Winner of the inaugural Clarendon Fine Art award, his interest lies in depicting motion, time and the moments that occur between events: “We are always on the move, if not physically, mentally.” This interest in the in-between is combined with an intense study of Cezanne’s use of multiple view points to depict a single subject.

Christian cites Antonio Lopez, Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach, Richard Diebenkorn, Francis Bacon and Gerhardt Richter as other important influences. His work is included in numerous important collections including the collection of His Royal Highness Prince Edward. Working in Gibraltar at the southern tip of Europe between the Atlantic and Mediterranean Oceans, there is within each painting sense of the interweaving of Hispanic folklore iconography and the remnants of British colonialism.