Dan Hillier's new Remix collection draws on past favourites from the artist's oeuvre. Pulling together and drawing parallels between themes and elements from his own body of work, remixing them, and creating new imagery out of the old, is, for Hillier, a way to reimagine and revisit past ideas, as well as inspire his future work.
Here, Hillier answers some of our burning questions about his new Remix collection, his artistic inspiration, and what's coming next.
What was the inspiration behind your new collection?
Well this release is a remix of some old favourites. I like doing some mix-and-match re-ordering with older work. I often thread the same or similar elements through different pieces anyway, and this is always a nice way to revisit old places and remember how I put them together, as well as often being a means to get inspired for the next bout of work.
Hillier signing his new Remix prints, 2020
What are you currently working on?
As for current work, I’ve got a couple on the go at the moment, which I’m taking my time with. One is very much inspired by the Corona situation, and one isn’t. I feel like I’m being taken off to a more abstracted aesthetic, but then that’s often the case and I return to the more figurative work.
Do you see this work as a continuation of previous work or a series, or a new departure in your practice?
It feels like all of my work is a continuation of previous work, and in some ways it’s all really the same thing in different forms. I like to take departures here and there, but I also love working within certain boundaries, and the themes in my work keep bringing me back in. Usually there’s a mixture of both continuation and departure going on in any new work.
Print drawers in Hillier's studio, 2020
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t have one. I really love making art, but there are lots of other things I enjoy too. I’ll often work away on a picture or pictures quite intensely, but also often I’ll spend a lot of time away from making it, and be off tripping about in the plant kingdom, spending time looking into other avenues, or pottering about, reading, and recently co-creating an allotment is taking up some hours.
When I’m cracking on with the art the days come in short and long forms, but I generally make sure I sit down to do the work on a regular basis. I need to put aside time specifically to work, or things blend into a mush of work and distraction. I find once I start on making or continuing a picture I tend to get lost in that for hours on end.
If I don’t make pictures I find myself getting pretty antsy, so the leisures and pleasures that don’t involve making art have to be kept in order.
Which artists inspire you, or you admire?
Max Ernst was the big one for me back in the day, as far as the work I make now, so always major props to him, as well as the underground comic art I loved back then too, like ‘Watermelon’ (Nicolas C Grey was a favourite artist in there) and ‘Colon’.
I’m enjoying classical art a lot at the moment, and meandering around the National Gallery and other places of old art is always a pleasure. The Sainsbury Wing of the National is a good visit, with its gold-leafed altar-pieces and triptychs, especially the Wilton Diptych.
Antony Gormley, Rothko, Howard Hodgkin, and Francis Bacon. Tibetan thangka paintings especially, and Hindu depictions of the many gods and goddesses from that tradition.
Contemporary-wise, I love Christopher Davison’s work, Willy Verginer’s amazing wood sculptures and Magnhild Kennedy’s masks stand out among lots of others that I like.
I’m inspired by tons of people – from all the arts. Way too many to list here…
(L) The artist's materials (R) A view of Hillier's light-filled studio
When did you know you wanted to pursue a life in art?
From making pictures as a kid. It’s always been the thing to do for me.
What is your earliest art memory?
I think I remember drawing a red blob which was my dad running for a bus but that might be based on the drawing of it that is still around somewhere…. Definitely lots of memories of drawing fighter jets, big cats, cars and werewolves when I was very young.
What did it feel like when you sold your first artwork?
I think the first artwork I sold of the stuff I make now was to my mate Steve, who came down to see me on my first day of having a market stall, and whose two purchases were my only sales, at £15 a pop. Answer: disappointed but thankful to the dear man.
I did get paid to do some murals in a couple of nightclubs in the 90s, and also hired out fun/awful fluorescent backdrops that I painted to raves and university bashes around that time too. I was made up, getting a couple of hundred quid and free entry each time.
What’s your favourite creative work?
I got quite obsessed with the film Midsommar when it came out, and I watched it for the fifth time the other night – I love it.
I don’t think I could name a real favourite – I did a thing for Eelus’s instagram a little while ago where I was allowed to take one work of art into a hideaway called The Bunker, and I chose ‘Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss’ by Italian artist Antonio Canova, but I think I’d change my mind now to ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’, by Heironymous Bosch, an all-time favourite. I remember unexpectedly coming face to face with that painting in the Prado in Madrid years ago and standing in front of it for an hour, boggling at it.
Musically it’s Elgar’s ‘The Dream of Gerontius’.
More of the same work, and some more abstract things on the side, and I’m about to take part in a virtual festival soon, but I’m not sure how or what that’ll be yet.
I’ve been getting very into making art on the allotment, to complement the plants and the overall space there, and it’s started a line of interest in making more sculptural/painterly work that collaborates with plant life. I like the idea of being out making work that weaves about in nature, making a strange and wondrous garden.
It’s funny to think about what I do as being a career, as it’s mostly fun, exploration and enjoyment, so the main aim or goal is for that to be the central part of what I do, whatever direction things go in.
Dan Hillier in his studio, 2020
Dan Hillier's Remix collection, including Crown-Remix, Ellipsis-Remix, Nothing Matters-Remix, and Origin -Remix are all available now, exclusive to artrepublic.