Hipkiss (artist)

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Christopher & Alpha Mason

London/Widnes (UK)
Known forDrawing
AwardsPollock-Krasner Foundation 2001, 2007, 2014

Hipkiss (formerly known as 'Chris Hipkiss') is a British artist duo known for detailed figurative drawings, created using a mixed media technique that combines pencil, silver ink and metal leaf. The name is a pseudonym of married couple, Alpha and Christopher Mason.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Christopher and Alpha met in London in the early 1980s and began working together shortly afterwards. They have lived in the south of France since 2001.[2][3]

Historically, commentators attributed the work of Hipkiss to Christopher alone. More recently, they have redefined themselves, retroactively, as a duo. They have stated that their inclusion on the periphery of the then-more-heterogeneous term 'Outsider' art in their formative years was a mis-categorisation largely due to drawing being less-accepted within the contemporary art world at that time; also, that it was responsible for the omission of Alpha from their biography.[4] They spoke at length on these subjects in a 2015 interview:

While we certainly owe a debt of gratitude to those early contacts in terms of name recognition - and some of them (some of whom we still work with to this day) would never attempt to misrepresent an artist in order to make them fit in with the genre - there are those who would happily fabricate an artist's biography to imply the 'necessary credentials' of an 'Outsider' artist: male, solitary, preferably mentally ill, poorly educated, possibly incarcerated. Preferably dead too! [5]

In a 2012 review, Paul Hobson, director of the Contemporary Art Society, noted that the works "... share something approximate with Paul Noble’s vast panoramic vista of fantastical civilisations...".[1]

Natural themes dominate the artists' output, and in recent years, their work has developed into a more focused treatment of the subjects. In a review of the 2018 solo exhibition, Bulwark, at the Drawing Center, Matthew Weinstein of Artforum wrote:

"Naturalists such as John J. Audubon, Karl Blossfeldt, and Pierre-Joseph Redouté treated their subjects as specimens, which necessitated the death of the object of investigation. Countless living things have been sacrificed for curiosity and representation. Hipkiss, however, use a precise kind of inner observation in the service of creation. Representation, for them, does not involve killing. Every Bulwark is a tower of celebration devoted to the protection of life."[6]

Notable solo shows include the Drawing Center and John Michael Kohler Arts Center. The duo has also featured in exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tate Britain, Whitechapel Gallery, New Museum, La Maison Rouge, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, David Zwirner Gallery and me Collectors Room Berlin, and can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, FRAC (Fonds régional d'art contemporain) Picardie, Les Abattoirs and Whitworth Art Gallery.[7]


  1. ^ a b Society, Contemporary Art (16 November 2012). "Hobson's Choice: Chris Hipkiss, L.I.E.S., at Ancient & Modern". Contemporary Art Society. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Galerie C — Contemporary Art". Galerie C. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Hipkiss - contemporary artist duo". www.hipkissart.com. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  4. ^ Frank, Priscilla (21 May 2015). "Artists Discuss The Problem With The 'O' Word -- Outsider Art". HuffPost. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Hipkiss Interview". VAYAVYA. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Hipkiss at The Drawing Center". www.artforum.com. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  7. ^ ArtFacts. "Hipkiss - Artist". ArtFacts. Retrieved 6 May 2019.