Josh Hoggle is an American painter based in Birmingham, Alabama, whose work examines the human condition through figurative impressionist paintings. Each piece is an exploration of psychology, sexuality, and the counterculture of the Bible Belt region.
Working primarily in portraits, his subjects are often androgynous and their body language evokes anxiety and suspicion. The figures are often featured in an otherworldly, melancholic trance in which they are wholly absorbed by a banal task, such as smoking a cigarette, or whose attention has been captured by an element outside of the frame, held fast in the subjects’ gaze.
Drawing inspiration from the fleeting moments captured in photography, Hoggle’s meticulous study of the physical body and facial expression is apparent in his keen attention to detail. Equal consideration is given to all parts of the canvas, illustrating Hoggle’s dedication to every aspect of his craft and the subject he’s portraying.
The background of each painting mirrors the mental state of the subject and serves as an aid to interpreting the emotionality of the work. Whether through portraiture or his more phantasmagorical paintings, each piece is rife with meaning.
His collection Alleyways explores the stagnation and disenchantment of living in a city you want to escape––because to be the full expression of yourself is to be isolated and alienated from the dominant culture. The collection features exaggerated, imposing walls, which call forth feelings of inescapability. Simultaneously, the everyday is intensified––like vibrantly colored florals and acutely textured bricks––to convey the commonality of this experience in Hoggle’s home state of Alabama.
His collection Femme Fatale is a darker and deeply allegorical exploration of poisonous flora. Concurrently glamorous, seductive, and lethal, each flower is embodied by a gothic human form. Subjects are often portrayed wearing black clothing and heavy charcoal eyeliner, as if each bewitching figure is as deadly as the flower they represent. The figures are shown wearing crowns of their respective flora, evoking a sense of power and triumph over the noxious effects each flower produces.
Hoggle’s paintings often have an evident and intentional ambiguity meant to arouse uncertainty in the viewer. In regarding each painting, viewers are asked to interrogate their own emotions and experiences––what does it mean to be looked at this way? to witness this emotion? Hoggle’s work is inherently introspective and contemplative, a hallmark of his artistic style.
Josh Hoggle, born in Woodstock, Alabama, now resides in Birmingham, Alabama, with his partner and two dachshunds. His interest in art developed at an early age and he found his passion for painting while studying for his BFA at the University of Montevallo. To learn more about his work and to be notified of upcoming exhibits and his participation in arts events, sign up for his email list.