The Opium Smoker
Pastel on paper
24 x 18 inches
29.75 x 23.75 inches
Signed and dated 2012
BIOGRAPHY - Hammond B. 1976
Hammond (b.1976) grew up in the historic Hudson Valley of New York. His earliest influences included Jim Davis and Charles Schultz, as well as characters created by DC and Marvel Comics. His interest in art was further fueled by the strong museum and arts background of his parents.
In the late 90s, he studied the business and presentation side of the fine art world while working for Vanier Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ (which closed around 2005). In doing so, he was exposed to world-renowned artists such as Dale Chihuly, Françoise Gilot, Fritz Scholder, Hunt Slonem, Janet Fish and Paul Jenkins. He had his first solo exhibit in 2000 and earned his B.A. in Art from Arizona State University in 2006.
While trained in representational art, Hammond began working from the subconscious, and in 2011 he shifted to an abstract expressionistic style. The initial outcome was his first abstract series, UNTITLED.
In 2012 he moved to Cincinnati, OH. He then partnered with Artworks Cincinnati on multiple projects, and in 2014 he founded the Cincinnati Abstract Art Group. Additionally, in 2016 he received two purchase awards through the Ohio Percent for Art program and was also selected for the Ohio Governor’s Office and Residence Loan Program. Hammond has had solo exhibitions in AZ, NY, OH and WI. His works are in several public and private collections nationally.
I think of my art as a documentation of my life experiences and thoughts. My work is frequently autobiographical in one form or another. The challenge that comes with trying to work from the subconscious and the process of creating the art are where I benefit most as an individual and a artist. When I am working I feel grounded, more spiritual and connected to a primordial energy. The style is abstract expressionistic despite it's distant familiarity to other works of art under the same umbrella.
As an artist I believe it is one of my responsibilities to use my talents as a tool to communicate my opinions, ideas and concerns. It is important to me that my work begs to ask the question, "what is the artist trying to say here?" Everything from politics to religion, environmental concerns to love, are all topics that I freely explore.
The connection to the piece, and the experience of making it, becomes the underlying fuel to do more. When I start one of these pieces, I am in a certain mood. That often dictates the "flavor" of the piece. Sometimes it may look like a figure, or a landscape, or just patterns. Sometimes I see one thing in the beginning and something completely different appears by the time I have finished. I never know where the piece will take me until the journey is complete. Titles are an important aspect to my work. They alone record and dictate if I try to control what is seen through suggestion or allow a piece to be open to interpretation.
Equally rewarding as the process of creating the artwork, is observing people while they contemplate what they see. Making someone smile, feel calm, or ask questions, are all examples of creating connections and memory imprinting. It is communication between people in one of the oldest human forms. If I am able to continue to make people think or cause an emotional reaction with my art then I will feel as though I have succeeded in this life.
Ultimately my artwork has two self serving purposes. It becomes a conduit to the unexplainable, allowing me to feel deeply and then to let go. In addition it is a tool that enables me as a human being, to have an aspect of control in my life when there seems to be an ever increasing chaos that surrounds us.
There are two paths you can take as an artist. You can try to recreate something familiar and seen from the natural world around us. This has been the tradition for the majority of artists since the inception of art. Only in this last century do we have evidence of artists taking the other path; attempting to create something brand new and unseen to anyone in the history of humankind. This has been the path that I have found, and have chosen to continue.
My current series emerged from the fact that I had two weeks with a portion of settlement funds to make my move somewhere else and found a warehouse. The first space I had was an old vault with no windows. It was winter, as cold inside as out and the fuses blew all the time. I was in that space for two months before I moved up to the penthouse. The second studio move aggravated my back again for the entire month of February, if not longer.
I wanted to keep working but I could not be as controlled as I had been in the past with works like Cat Fight. I often do the line work with the canvas down on the ground almost like I’m working on a drawing. My body couldn't handle it. That and as luck would have it, I wanted to start working larger again and my then girlfriend and fellow artist told me I should finish something already started before starting something new. That aggravated me, and this new body of work was born with the piece titled Uninhibited. It was loose, so I could keep working. It was more fun. and by about the third painting I noticed how much of the graffiti around me was starting to influence my mark making.
This began what I've been referring to as my Rocky I time period. It’s a rough neighborhood and life has gotten rough for both me and the world as through my eyes. I was brought up in an upper middle class, well-educated town along the Hudson River. Irvington. I began to see signs in about 2010 that I would probably be the first generation that would experience downward mobility. Seven years later for a variety of reasons I am now experiencing it. That is what has brought me to the current body of work.
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