F. Scott Hess

artist interviews

Click here to stream or download the August 24, 2014 interview, part 1  |  Stream on iTunes

Click here to stream or download the August 24, 2014 interview, part 2  |  Stream on iTunes

Artist Background

F. Scott Hess was born in Baltimore in 1955, received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and studied five years at the Vienna Academy of Fine Art. In 1979 Hess had his first solo exhibition in Vienna, quickly followed by exhibitions in Austria, Germany and France. In 1981 he received one of Austria’s most prestigious awards for artists, the Theodor Koerner Award.  In 1984 Hess moved to his current home of Los Angeles and in 1985 had his first American solo exhibition, followed by of over one hundred group and solo exhibitions, including venues in Europe, Taiwan, and Iran. 

His work is included in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Orange County Museum of Art, Oakland Museum, San Jose Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Institute, among others.  In 1990 he received a Western States Art Federation award, and in 1991 a J. Paul Getty Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship. 

In 2014 a retrospective at two venues, the Begovich Gallery at Cal State Fullerton, and the Municipal Art Gallery of Los Angeles, featured selections from over thirty years of Hess’ work. His massive family history project, The Paternal Suit, began touring the country in 2012, with venues in South Carolina, Alabama, and ending at the Long Beach Museum of Art in 2014. F. Scott Hess is represented by Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Los Angeles, and is an Associate Professor with Laguna College of Art + Design’s MFA and BFA programs.

Below are samples of Scott’s paintings (click on images to enlarge).

Artist Statement

“As I developed my own voice, logic dictated that I progress toward a realistic genre style, eliminating all that felt contrived or fashionable.  I desired an art that did not reinforce and pander to an elite by using an obscure and difficult language, but could reach anyone through our mutual signs of human engagement and the arrangements of narrative figure painting.  In the 80’s this took the form of social/political commentary, focused on the vitality and conflicts of American life.  Issues of the media, consumerism, and alienation were presented through psychological dramas set in sunny, Technicolor California.  After living in Iran for a year (1992-93), and painting that culture with an equally critical eye, I began to feel it was necessary to go to more profoundly personal places than politics and social commentary would allow.  My work evolved a more nuanced view of humanity, its content multi-layered and open-ended. With increasing age came an acute awareness of mortality, and a need to engage some of the existential questions of life by exploring issues of impotence, futility, and final judgment.  These heavy subjects are approached with a jaundiced reverence; even the darkest of my works always bear a hint of the hilarity of the human condition.”

To learn more about Scott, check out his bio on Artsy, this article by an art critic at the L.A. Times, and his blog contributions to the Huffington Post.