Interview with Asif Hoque by Rebecca Brantley
R.B.: You were raised in South Florida and your works reflect the plurality of your identity. Can you describe your experience there as a Bangladeshi immigrant and your personal journey to New York—especially as it informs your work?
A.H.: My work tells the stories about my adaptation to foreign places and culture while still retaining my Bangladeshi origin. Moving to South Florida from Rome, where I was born, was a culture shock. These two places had drastically different languages and people. I felt I needed to adapt quickly and I did. As an immigrant, adapting became a gift for me, but I could never shake the feeling of living “in-between” all these cultures. New York was another environment that I could incorporate into my pieces.
R.B.: Where do you work? Describe your studio practice.
A.H. I worked out of my small New York apartment for a really long time. As a romantic, I like to believe art comes from hardship and perseverance. I have recently moved to a bigger studio to make my larger works, but I now understand and value my space everywhere I go.
R.B.: How did your experience at Pratt shape your artistic career? Of your classical training?
A.H.: Pratt was a ticket to New York City for me and my Art career. Although I have family in Queens my parents wanted me to stay in Florida, where they reside. I understood the only way I can grow as an artist was to move to the big city where many have done before me. I love a small town kid moving to a big city to become something story. Pratt was an introduction to many artist and styles which I still value to this day. Pratt was very important, however I believe if you have the motivation, you can learn anywhere.
R.B.: On your website, you cite a W. E. B. Du Bois quote: “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” Can you expand upon the meaning of this quote for you? How does it influence your work?
A.H.: The quote to me means awareness of oneself at all times, The connection you have with the people and the culture creates this sensation. The double-consciousness for me is about looking in and out simultaneously. I grew up in many cultures so for me I’m always aware how I’m looked at and perceived through different eyes, but I always change accordingly. Whether it's to make them more comfortable or make myself fit in more. I am always aware of these big or small changes I have, this creates this double-consciousness for me. In my work I wish to create the same energy, I want everyone to connect to my work. This can be done through skin tones, compositions or the size of the work.