Joshua Maxwell de Hoog’s artworks instantly catch your eye. Shades of red sit comfortably on top of splotches of green and it’s as if Joshua has reinterpreted the colour spectrum into the characters in his paintings. When I met with Joshua late one afternoon, I imagined his fashion would reflect the objects he paints. But to my surprise he was dressed head-to-toe in black, though by mere coincidence rather than choice. Despite his colourful artworks there was an undeniable calmness that Joshua evoked.
His most recent collection of paintings were based around autism and schizophrenia and were exhibited at Courthouse ARTS.
“This series is based on autism and schizophrenia, they’re childish paintings and really scattered and thematically scattered,” Joshua says.
While this isn’t something Joshua has personally experienced, it’s still something he finds fascinating and has often come across in his work as a photographer.
“I photograph a lot of people on the spectrum and my mind thinks spectrum, that’s the colour spectrum, it just made me think of paintings and from there I wanted to paint about it,” he says.
“It’s really interesting, and the name of my exhibition is Hands Over Ears Won’t Stop the Voices because lots of autistic kids put their hands over their ears as if someone is talking to them, even when it’s dead silent.”
As Joshua has mentioned, each painting is drawn in a “childish” way, yet they manage to encompass everything he set out for. Even the process of painting itself was an opportunity for Joshua to let his mind wander and experience just a glimpse of what his subject matter was about.
“When I’m painting it definitely heightens my awareness of myself,” Joshua says.
“I’m really trying to tune into what my mind is telling me to paint, because it’s all imagination based. It’s just allowing your mind to take over your body and not be worried to make mistakes.”
It takes a special artist to let themselves go like Joshua does, and his talent is evident, especially for someone who hasn’t pursued tertiary studies in the arts. It seems those around him can see his talent, and a past teacher at Covenant College could also see his future.
“My old art teacher was great, she’s awesome and she just links me on to contacts and galleries and things like that,” he says.
When you factor in that Joshua is also a skilled analogue photographer and sings in a band, it’s no wonder his teacher is still giving him guidance. Though when faced with the question of his talent, Joshua is more than modest in his reply.
“I don’t know about that,” he laughs looking down at the table, “I try, I just dabble in a bit of everything I guess.”
Still so early in his career it’s hard to say where Joshua will go, for now he hopes to one day be exhibited at Boom Gallery, though we’re sure he’ll get much farther than that.
By Amanda Sherring, Photo by Genevieve Walshe