ArtChat [Blog Interview Number 29] – David Hinchliffe

AC: David it has a been a year since you last exhibited with us! Tell our Readers where your career has taken you over the last 12 months.DH: It’s hard to know where to start. I’ve had two exhibitions in New York and one in London in the last 12 months and they’ve gone amazingly well. In fact at the New York Art Fair, to my surprise I sold more paintings than any other artist. As a result I’ve had a lot of commissions which has taken some time to get to. I’ve also led some painting workshops – one in South Carolina and another in New York and have thoroughly enjoyed them. There’s something about getting out painting with others who share your passion that heightens the experience of painting. By all accounts the workshops have gone well and I’ve been invited back to conduct more. I’ve travelled and painted in the last 6 months in New York, Barcelona, Paris, London and Venice. I have just participated in the Hampstead Heath Art Fair through my London gallery and plan to return to the UK next year as well for more painting.

AC: Your style is distinctive but as the creator do you feel a development, physical or psychological, in your paintings or creative process? In the sense that do you perceive and portray your environment differently as your career develops. DH: I certainly see a marked development in my painting style over the last 12 months as I’ve been able to concentrate solely on painting for the first time in a very long time. One of the best experiences has been the opportunity to paint with a fellow by the name of David Hinchliffe, an artist who lives and paints in Somerset. Quite by chance we got in touch with each other…and discovered there was a common relative in Yorkshire going back about 300 years and even more surprisingly we both paint in a not dissimilar style. The UK David Hinchliffe lives in Somerset with his lovely wife Patsy and has been painting and teaching for many years. He’s recently retired and when I was in London to prepare for my recent exhibition there, I took time out to go down to Somerset to meet the ‘other’ David Hinchliffe and Patsy. I had the wonderful opportunity to paint with David in his glorious, light-filled studio. I think we both learnt from that experience. I’m hoping at some point in the near future we can have a joint exhibition no doubt entitled “Two David Hinchliffes are Better than One!” Artists should always be open to influences…even if it’s from other artists of the same name!

AC: What is it in your painting that you think your clients are drawn to? DH. Artists always wrestle with the inevitable question about style and about giving a name to the sort of painting we do. The word most of my clients use in relation to my work is “atmosphere”. I think they’re right. I try to impart something of the ‘atmosphere’ or ‘sensibility’ of the subject I’m painting. I’ve never been pretentious about painting. I don’t overrate painting and Art. I don’t think painting changes the world. But it can have an individual effect. I think it does have an extraordinary capacity to touch people individually and for them to respond visually to a work. I’m constantly surprised – and delighted – by the feedback I get from buyers who write or speak to me about the impact of having my painting on their walls. It’s very touching and extremely humbling. If I can achieve something of the atmosphere of the subject I paint – whether it’s a landscape or streetscape or even a portrait – then I feel I’ve more than achieved what I set out to do. I am extremely grateful that circumstances have allowed me to do what I do and I never take that for granted.

AC: Anyone can paint a picture (it just takes a bit of courage to pick up a brush) but being an artist is different. What do you think makes a painter an artist? DH. That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? I agree with the concept that anyone can paint. I believe that implicitly. Children show us that all the time. It’s only about the age of 4 or 5 that we tend to discourage their natural propensity to record the world around them or the feelings within them by making them think their painting has to look like what it’s supposed to look like or conform to some standard notion of painting. That’s why I think we have a lot to learn from Aboriginal artists. Traditional as well as modern indigenous art should instruct us that anyone can interpret the world around them. All painting has the capacity to be art as long as it is genuine…but then what is genuine and what is fake? My son Joe who works in Chile as a journalist, recently referred me to a documentary by Orson Welles -- “F is for Fake” . It’s about a Hungarian artist, Elmyr de Hory who lived in Spain and faked modern masters. There’s a lot of pretension and fakery about art – especially modern art – that we should have the courage to face and re-think. We struggle with the notion of ‘art’ and what it means. That’s especially true in the 20th and 21st centuries. The invention of the camera in the 19th century meant artists were no longer required to document what IS. We have cameras, videos and even smart phones to do that for us now – and with splendid results. Artists need to create something that goes beyond a literal translation of the world around us. Their role ought to be to interpret our world and to explore the inner world. To give us new eyes in which to see and experience our world. But as to the subject of what is real “Art” (with a capital ‘A’) and what is mere ‘painting’, there’s that great poem ‘Conundrum’ byRudyard Kipling that asks this very question. See full poem here 

"WHEN the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden's green and gold, Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold; And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart, Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: "It's pretty, but is it Art?"

AC: You travel all over the world and visit many cities but I’m sure you’d agree that you are extremely lucky to call Brisbane home. Where are your favourite places to eat, drink and visit when you are in town? DH. This is where I fail as an apostle of my home town. I love this city and I’m always overjoyed to return here, but frankly I eat out very rarely and drink out even less rarely. When I’m home in Brisbane, I’m usually home to paint in my studio and of course I’m a slave to my work. I’m almost monastic when it comes to indulgences like fine food and drink. So, despite having an extraordinary smorgasbord of places to choose from in Brisbane, I sample very little of what’s on offer. Having said that however, one place I did visit recently (in the company of the delightful Lisa Newman) was the recently re-opened Shingle Inn in City Hall. Lisa and I put forward a proposal 6 years ago to then Lord Mayor Campbell Newman that we should try to get Shingle Inn back into City Hall as part of the refurbishment of the old building. These things take time and I’m pleased to say the Shingle Inn (complete with its original tables, seats, crockery and menu) has been re-born in City Hall and I hope it will remain its permanent home. While there, I recommend people take the lift (after they’ve had one of the Inn’s splendid cakes and cups of tea) to the top floor to visit the extraordinary re-vamped Museum of Brisbane (MoB). The museum has some great art works and wonderful exhibits…but you can’t beat the in-your-face view of the dome of City Hall leaping out before you through the large feature windows in the foyer of the museum. So, that’s my pick – Shingle Inn and the new City Hall.

AC: Lastly, what can we expect from you in the next 12 months? DH. Well, there’s more travelling and a lot more painting to be done that’s for sure. I can’t believe how this year has sped by so quickly. I want to explore more contacts with artists. I think the opportunity to work with other artists adds enormously to your own perspective as an artist. I have been quite isolated from my fellow artists in the past so that’s a sort of ‘new year’s resolution’. On the non-art side (because Man does not live by Art alone), I’ve been asked to co-host the breakfast show on 612 ABC for one morning in July. That’s sure to be interesting. There are trips back to my home away from home in New York, visits to my doppelganger artistic ‘brother’ artist, David Hinchliffe in Somerset, a trip to Morocco and maybe Myanmar and who knows what else. We have so little time on this earth and our job is to make the most of it.