Annie Hémond Hotte

My paintings exist in a world that is committed to an invented folklore. As a ritualistic method in the studio, I create and compose tableaus that engage with the obsessive. The surfaces build up from accumulation and repetition, juxtaposing different motifs to create a sense of space. Simultaneously, the accretion of varied marks, lines, and dots organically guide the imagery, making the paintings partially chance-driven. I incorporate recurring patterns (figures, animals, plants, trees, grass, hair, architecture, etc.) to evoke abstract narratives in a painterly and decorative manner.

I paint with oil, and my surfaces are the result of building thicker, clotted and opaque layers over a thinned out, washy under-layer. The grainy quality of the canvas surface becomes a texture on its own as I repetitively apply the colors on top. An important aspect of my routine is the mixing of colors and observing how they interact with one another within the image as a whole.

I’m interested in a pictorial style that relies on a conscious flattening of the picture plane. The spaces created are consistent from top to bottom, emphasizing the scale and proportion of shapes, rather than perspective. There is a near symmetry which recurs; I paint something once and will paint it again (from right to left, or top to bottom). ‘Duality’ as an idea, and the reflection-in-the-mirror analogy are subjects I continue to revisit.

The work is focused more on representing the allegorical rather than the real. My titles are simple and put words to what we see in my paintings, but do not address their combined effect. Recently, I see ‘labyrinth women’ as my primary figure-form. This form invites a conversation between the symbol of the feminine and the complex architecture of the maze. On the one hand, it’s analogous to the history of women in art, on the other, it refers to my personal experience and painting practice moving and spinning in circles. The functional yet absurd attire of the figures recalls the dancers’ costumes in Oskar Schlemmer’s seminal Bauhaus performance, Das Triadisches Ballett, which imagined the human body as geometric and abstract. These labyrinthine women have one function, to simply embody the form they exist in. Inadvertently, the repetitive spiral pattern distorts and confuses our sight, making us aware of the act of our own seeing. The labyrinth acts as a symbol for a direction forward, or as a metaphor for life and death. In either case it relies on factors of chance and embodies the unavoidable.

Painting is a constant conversation and reckoning with the memories of art history. Since I was a child I have looked at the past with admiration and anticipated the future with anxiety. As a young adult I moved to London and lived there for several years, all the while hoping to walk and work on the streets that witnessed this connection to the past. I wanted to feel closer to a longer trajectory of time. This appreciation for history echoes in my work as it engages with a collection of visual forms, including painting and bas-relief from antiquity and the Middle Ages, mid century handmade weavings, and even early playing cards and Tarot de Marseille decks.

Painting has always been concerned with the duality between the sacred and the mythological, which has shaped the traditions of image making. As a painter, I identify and intend to engage with this history of the metaphysical. Often manifesting subconsciously, the allegories in my work consider a transitional moment between figure and nature, light and dark, surface and depth, the known and the unknown. This circles back to my personal connection to life, with the past, present and future. I am a spectator of my own story.