Interview with Asif Hoque

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?

 Asif Hoque Just Like Baba oil on canvas 72x72”

Asif Hoque Just Like Baba oil on canvas 72x72”

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.

 Asif Hoque at the Linda Matney Gallery

Asif Hoque at the Linda Matney Gallery

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?  

 Asif Hoque  Self Portrait  oil pastel on paper

Asif Hoque Self Portrait oil pastel on paper

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?

 Asif Hoque  “Always smile for the neighborz,”   said Baba  oil on canvas 72x72”

Asif Hoque “Always smile for the neighborz,” said Baba oil on canvas 72x72”

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.

 Asif Hoque and Caroline E. Absher  Untitled  oil on canvas

Asif Hoque and Caroline E. Absher Untitled oil on canvas