NS: I know you’ve mentioned that your paintings are about painting, and you’ve also said that your abstractions in some way reference abstraction. So is your work interrogatory and questioning?
CH: Yeah, exactly. But behind all that is a drive to have an object which has a certain character in the world. So what you’re proposing is that this object has qualities, and you want it to be in the world as a kind of odd thing, a noticeable thing. If you give it qualities that you think are very banal and you don’t like them anyway, there’s no point in having it in the world. But if you feel like it has some kind of presence that has a character you want, then that’s a good thing. But it’s difficult to find that character, and it’s very easy to slip into platitudes, and banalities, and repetition, and shit in general.
I think these qualities are, let’s say, beautiful, or moving even. Or at the very least interesting, fascinating. But it doesn’t follow that anybody else would see that, because that’s a question of taste. Other people might just think, ‘So what? It’s a load of spatters.’ It can seem extremely banal, or without signification. It’s difficult to know whether those aesthetic qualities are shared. I don’t consciously think of beauty or happiness or anything like that [when I paint], but I do think of [the paintings] having a kind of lightness to them, rather than a heaviness, and I don’t want them to look like I tried really, really hard. Equally, I don’t want them to look like a sort of facile airhead has done them [laughs]. So it is striking a balance between lots, and lots of qualities like that. And that’s why I get depressed, you know, I come in and I think, ‘Ah shit, this looks like you’re an idiot who’s tried really hard,’ or then it looks like something that’s stupidly flash, and just trivial.
NS: Are there any thematic links between your paintings? Is there anything you’re exploring in the background?
CH: Thematic… [sighs]. That’s very difficult to know. I don’t think in terms of themes, but it may be that there is a kind of repetition of certain motifs, or gestures, or techniques, or colours, even. But I don’t see them as a theme, I don’t really know what a theme is, in your terms [laughs].