John Hawke’s work began in on site landscape painting.  Over time, the performative nature of the artist in public space, combined with the perceived failure of an optical approach in adequately representing a landscape led to a more conceptual landscape model, where spaces are seen not as constructions of colors but as snarled vectors of interest-- with art having an unusually effective intervening capacity.

For the past seven years, he has made architecture and sign interventions in public space, employing the principle of 'productive confusion' in a sometimes collaborative project entitled Orange Work, that combines symbols of authority with novel forms and messages.

He completed undergraduate study at Colby College with a degree in Classics, and received an MFA, and an MS degree in Art History (with a thesis on Robert Smithson’s environmental antagonism) from Pratt Institute in 2002.  He participated in the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program in 2006.

He has exhibited his work in New York at Apex Art, the Abrons Art Center, Anthology Film Archives, Art in General, Creative Time, and Eyebeam, as well as at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), the Centro Cultural de Belém (Lisbon), Pallant House Gallery (UK), the Riccardo Crespi Gallery (Milan) and most recently at G-MK (Zagreb).

His work has been presented  at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, PS.1, the New School’s Vera List Center, Exit Art, and at the College Art Association, and has been reviewed in the New York Times, Flash Art, Architect’s Newspaper, the Radical History Review, the Brooklyn Rail, and rhizome.org. 

In 2013, he moved from Brooklyn to Portugal, and set to one side a commitment to of advancing within the circuits of the professional art world.  He made an individual exhibition of plein air landscape paintings in 2013 in a restored fruit warehouse in Azoia.  In 2015, he bought with his wife a one acre plot of land near Sintra, and worked to develop a kind of private eden, building structures (shed, greenhouse, club house, compost bathroom, water reservoir, picnic table) and together they planted a garden and roughly 100 fruit trees.  Since 2015, he has thrown himself into the challenging but rewarding task of teaching art full time to secondary students at an international school near Lisbon.

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