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The fine art of industrial rock

In this Bold feature we connect with industrial rock artist Adrian Sinclair Hogg as he prepares a pop-up exhibition of his paintings in a café shuttered by the pandemic

Painter and musician Adrian Sinclair Hogg has an industrious idea for paying it forward while sharing his art with a pandemic-fatigued public.

“I have been getting these CERB cheques and I wanted a good way to spend it as opposed to buying booze,” said Hogg. “I have been looking for a place to host a show. You know, rent out a space and entertain people a little bit in a weird way.”

Hogg, who performs music under the name Sam and the Ant Nest, and paints under the moniker, Diving Out of Touch, is staging a pop-up exhibition of his paintings inside the shuttered space of the former Starberry Café in the Shops at Paisley plaza.

“I think the old Starberry place is great because it allows people to easily socially distance,” he said. “I am going to try to lay it out so, if people don’t want to go inside, they can just look through the windows because it is essentially a giant showroom.”

He hopes the exhibit, scheduled for the last two weekends of August, will be a welcome distraction for art fans venturing from their homes after months of isolation.

“It gives people something to do during all of this,” he said. “There are no concerts. There is no theatre happening. It might just kill some time.”

The pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty for new and established artists and many, like Hogg, are exploring fresh ideas for promoting their work.

“I made a living being a barista for a while,” said Hogg. “That’s what I did when I was living in Toronto. I have just been working on my art practice for the last five years. I am trying to make the switch into doing that fulltime.”

Hogg was born in Guelph in 1992, the oldest child of multi-media musician and artist Kevin Hogg and Pauline Sinclair director of graduate studies at the University of Guelph. He has a younger sister Camille.

“Thankfully, both of my parents are artists,” he said. “When my mom was my age, she was doing acrylic painting much like myself. My father did some paintings, but I think his artistic career was mostly in music and movies or film.”

The large oil-on-canvas paintings in Hogg’s Diving Out of Touch collection are the survivors of a process of experimentation and introspection that left many canvases on the trash heap.

“There was lots of trial and error,” said Hogg. “I have scrapped a lot of paintings.”

Each scrapped painting was a lesson he didn’t have to learn in a classroom.

“I’m a self-taught artist,” he said. “I briefly went to college, but I dropped out. I was studying film, but it was aiming toward me becoming a camera operator and not doing anything artistic.”

Skipping school was a creative and economic choice.

“If you compare the cost of going to school with scrapping paintings, it is actually cheaper,” he said. “It is cheaper to just try and throw it out and move on to the next one than it is to pay for tuition. So, I did that.”

Accreditation aside, he is clearly a student of the arts with elements from a variety of styles such as cubism, surrealism, abstract and even classical seeping into his work but Hogg doesn’t claim to draw on any of the past masters for inspiration.

“Obviously, I do love visual art, but I can’t think of a visual artist whose style has directly influenced mine,” he said. “I draw most of my influence from industrial rock and bands like Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. I love that genre.”

Hogg performs and records industrial rock under the name Sam and the Ant Nest.

“It is just me,” he said. “It is sampled machine noises with some guitar and some beats under it. It’s on Spotify, iTunes, pretty much all the streaming platforms.”

He hopes to elevate industrial rock beyond its present status as a sub-genre of pop music.

“I want to create a fine art look that also achieves the vibe that goes along with that music,” said Hogg. “But not have it be fan art. I want it to be fine art so, it’s tricky but I am getting there.”

Staging pop-up exhibits is a business model he is exploring as a means to that end.

“This show is sort of a trial for me,” he said. “If it works and I sell a few pieces then it is a viable business strategy to host a pop up. I can basically pick a city, fly there, paint, rent out a pop-up shop, sell the paintings and move on to another city. So, essentially, I get to tour.”

It’s an ambitious goal and Hogg is prepared for the process of trial and error that comes with forging his own path.

“You got to go with the flow,” he said. “If you’ve got an idea you’ve got to paint or make it or whatever it is you do. That’s the thing I am trying to head towards right now.”

The pop-up gallery at 10 Paisley St in Guelph will be open to the public from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20 to Sunday Aug. 23 and Thursday, Aug 27 to Saturday, Aug 29.

For a preview of Hogg’s art visit