Albuquerque artist Cody Hooper’s latest body of work captures the spirit and color of the southwest desert. The Texas-born artist moved to New Mexico in 2010 to pursue his painting career, which continues to flourish and evolve nearly ten years later. For his October solo exhibition “Desert Essence,” Hooper revisits his first impressions of the desert landscape upon his move to the southwest, translating the associated emotions and energy into his paintings. “Desert Essence” opens on October 3rd and the gallery will host the artist for a reception on Friday, October 5th from 5-7pm.
“During my first visit to New Mexico I remember pulling my car off the side of the road, climbing a large hill and watching a huge storm blow in,” recalls Hooper. “My senses were heightened and l felt this blanket of comforting air roll in around me. Its’ a difficult feeling to describe but l can translate this through my work.” Hooper’s exhibition paintings contrast earthy and vibrant tones that echo the natural palette of the desert. The energy imbued into each piece reflects the artist’s personal response to the landscape as he juxtaposes mixed emotions of excitement, drama, serenity and comfort. Hooper’s bold acrylic paintings also have a spiritual bent, illustrated through the artist’s careful attention to light and shadow. “For these new paintings I will attempt to replicate the spiritual energy of the land and how I personally perceive it,” Hooper explains. “I hope viewers join me in rediscovering the magical essence of the desert.”
Hooper’s artistic inclinations began with realistic watercolors in Austin, Texas, where he studied under southwest landscape painter Barbara Hughes. Recognizing his potential at a young age, Hughes took Hooper to workshops with the Southwest Watercolor Society and taught him the technical painting prowess he continues to rely on today. Hooper spent ten years painting traditional landscapes before pursuing abstraction, a style that allowed him the most freedom of expression. His upcoming exhibition is a return not only to his early impressions of New Mexico, the place where his art career began to soar, but also pays homage to the early southwest watercolors that initially informed his techniques and fueled his artistic interests.