You’d be forgiven for thinking at a glance that Scott Hove was an artisan baker. His work looks as if it were made of layers of sponge and frosting – his site’s landing page even welcomes you to Cakeland – but these elaborate creations are a feast only for the eyes. Besides which, many of his sculptures, as delicious as they may appear, look as if they’d bite back and bite back hard.
Built up on a base of polyurethane foam, these acrylic cake-beasts are an unnerving blend of sickly sweet and deadly, with a healthy dash of Pop Art’s deliberate gaudy tackiness. It would be all too easy to pepper a review of his work with tired puns – ‘death by chocolate’, ‘you are what you eat’, etc. – but there’s more going on here than simple shock factor. At its most superficial level, what we’re seeing is the beauty of the cake-maker’s artistry in a permanent form, and Hove does use traditional cake-maker’s tools and techniques to decorate his sculpts; how often have we seen a beautifully decorated cake only to lament that it will either be eaten or, if nobody can bring themselves to defile it, rot, eventually. Not so these works.
On a deeper level, Hove says he tries to explore “the relationship between the natural world and mechanical civilization, and the drama that occurs during this interaction”, and one can certainly see the irony in the very animal, predatory fangs – as primal a symbol of the food chain as you can get – pushing through a sculpt representing the height of mankind’s ornamentation of food. Further, the element of danger or threat in these works speaks to that haunting feeling in all of us, perhaps deep-seated but always there, that we as a species are constantly pushing towards our own destruction, imploding in self-indulgence.
There’s more than a hint of the body horror of Burroughs or film-maker David Cronenberg in these sculpts, both artists concerned with the ever-increasing falseness of our lives, our society. Hove’s work undoubtedly touches on that, reminding us that deep down (or perhaps not so deep), beneath all our airs and graces and art and beauty, it’s impossible to hide that we are, after all, only animal.
Living and working in Oakland, Hove also produces large-scale Cakeland installations, as well as paintings, drawings, and ropework, for which he is currently seeking installation opportunities.