“I am interested in showing the relationships we all have, whether in time or place. I also try to show the pattern in chaos and, perhaps the overload of information that we are bombarded with in our modern times”. – Stephen Hall
Stephen Hall, an artist who has been working in New York for many years, was recently part of a featured article in the New York Times and a photo essay by photographer Michael Mundy , called An Afternoon With and Gallery and Studio magazine’s Ed McCormick called him “One of our more exciting Pop Surrealists”.
There are no digital prints, photographs, collage, airbrush or projections involved in his work. The subjects and ambiguous light sources are hand painted rows and rows of acrylic colors or tones, going from dark to light in countless layers. All the patterns are drawn first around a cardboard template upon the background field color and then painted tonally to match the background.
A:Firstly, can you describe your work?
SH:My work is crisp, colorful, often surreal distillations or compilations, of the world we live in. A bombardment of shapes and information, sometimes with a particular point of view, sometimes with multiple points of view, yet once viewed interpretations, perhaps differ from person to person.
A:Where do you draw your inspiration from in your artwork?
SH:My inspiration is from the real world, the news, the media and my travels around the globe.
A:There is a digital, photographic element in your paintings. Can you explain the painting process for your artwork and your interest in this type of artistic practice?
SH:The main reason that I strive to paint in an arresting graphic/realistic way stems mainly from my youth, when friends , looking at the likes of abstraction or expressionism would say..” I could do that” I wanted them to be drawn in not distanced. My resolve in this manner of painting is sure with the dominance of conceptual and performance art that can alienate huge swathes of the population.
A:You’ve worked in New York for many years. How do you feel contemporary art has changed since being there?
SH:There is less of a connection to artists and gallery, or artist and public. It seems a more elite scene here now also because of the lack of affordable places for an artist to live and make art.
A:Has there been a particular moment, review or collection in your career that has stood out to you above others?
SH:I was painting and selling occasionally in New York during the east village boom of galleries, but also partying a lot.When I was approached by a Japanese art dealer who said to me, something like” You have a unique talent and style, but you are not an artist yet. You must paint every day for the next three years, do not over think just paint and I will buy every thing” I did and he did. It changed my life.
A:Your new series Back to Nature is about violence and threat and its consequences. Is this responding to a particular instance or is this a broader look at violence on the planet?
SH:Back to Nature is perhaps about the ridiculous amount of gun violence in the USA but it is also about the stupid nature of man’s violence etc globally.
A:What is your future plan?
SH:My future plan is to paint every day and not over think, but perhaps be a bit more specific if I feel I can articulate without being too preachy.
At the end of the day, keep making arresting, dynamic paintings….
Have a look at the process of making for Stephen’s American Still Life. www.dropbox.com
See more of Stephen Hall’s artwork in the current issue of Aesthetica out now www.aestheticamagazine.com/shop
1. American Still Life. Courtesy of Artist
2. Don’t Hold Your Breath. Courtesy of Artist