In conversation with

In Conversation With: Dex Hannon

We are thrilled to share with you the interview with Abstract Expressionist British Artist, Dex Hannon. The Image Curators team is pleased to have the chance to host an interview with the mixed media artist, as he talks about one of the biggest dilemma of the latest technologies replacing traditional ways to paint and create art, and how to build resilience during Covid-19 lockdown.
29th October 2020 | Image Curators Advisory
Dex Hannon, A State of Higher Transience, 2014, Digital art on Canvas or Giclée print, 50x100 cm (19.6x 39.3 inch). Digital remix of the painting State of Higher Transience. Courtesy: the Artist.
Throughout The Years, You Have, And You Continue To Explore Art Through Different Mediums, From Painting To Photography, From Digital Art To Music. Tell Us More About Yourself And This Journey.
What I have always tried to do is let the idea choose the medium, instead of trying to make an idea fit the medium I am comfortable in working with. For example, I have been for a long time translating the music I listen to visually. Either using the idea in a song as a jumping-off point or using the music physically, letting the music guide my movements upon the canvas, so it becomes a dance. But I began to feel that translating someone else’s work wasn’t as good as creating the music and the art myself I began to make music and translate that. Then I started working on the music, words, and art simultaneously. So the art forms become linked. To get to this point I had to learn how to make music, how to use the software to create music that spoke in the same language as the paintings I wanted to create. It has taken four years, but now I have a new medium to explore ideas with.
“Would digital replace painting? What was the place for the digital arts in the world?”
Also when I was working on the 'Chaos Geometry' series, I knew I wanted to take some ideas further. I could see the concept wasn’t just something that demanded a painterly approach, so I started playing with the idea of digitally remaking them. I always take pictures of work as I paint. So I used those and the photographs of the finished works to explore the work in a different way. I began taking apart the paintings digitally, stripping back to lines or blocks of colour and reimagining them. I called this ‘Digitally Remixing’. The idea took me back to my childhood and the music I listened to. This was the time when remixing started, in the ’80s. A track would be reborn and reshaped. The idea that something new was created from something else, in some cases the remix [would] become more successful than the original. It took on a life of its own. But it was only possible through the bones and structure of the original [piece]. I hadn’t realised until I began the series how much that had left a mark on me.

The 'Chaos Geometry' series also represented the battle that was happening within me and also within art itself. Between traditional painting and digital art. Would digital replace painting? What was the place for the digital arts in the world? I guess this is what drove me to the idea of trying to control the output. Digital could very easily become mass-produced and lose its value. So I decided to enforce a limit of 10 copies only in each digital work being available to buy. Then the original files are destroyed, deleted. Only a low res file copy would survive.

Dex Hannon, Sugar Pop Dream Factory, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 60x60 cm (23.6x 23.6 inch). Courtesy: the Artist.
Where Do You Find Your Inspiration For Such A Diverse Practice?
I don’t think I am alone in trying to reinterpret the world, to try and rebuild it in my own way. I create under different pseudonyms, each has a different body of work: music, art, photography or writing. Collectively, I call myself the ‘Broken Toy Company’. A collection of creatives, viewing the world as a Broken Toy we can fix up in the way we like. We don’t need to follow pre-determined rules. We can do what we like. We can have fun. I think that’s my inspiration. To have fun. To look at something and think what else can it be?
The stories I write, they all began from overheard conversations on buses or trains. I took those simple sentences or conversations and transported them to new environments, what else could they mean? What else can they be? The same goes for the Digital Remix series. This is the finished painting, but what else can it mean? Where else can it go? Nothing is ever truly an ending or a final thing. It's only part of a journey.

“This was kind of funny to me. We are in lockdown, and I couldn’t walk five minutes to my studio, but instead, I could make music with musicians from California, Italy, and Cambridge.”

How Have You Developed Your Career So Far?
I guess the only way to explain that would be constantly challenging myself to use different media to convey different messages. Never settle, keep things interesting for myself and people interested in my work. As Tim Booth from the band James sang, “why be a song when you can be a symphony.” That has truly resonated with me.

When Life Gives You Lemons… How Do You Build Your Resilience?
We have been given a heck of a lot of lemons during the lockdown. I have always had the view that you should try not to look at life through the lens: ‘what can’t I do’, but always had the view: ‘what can I do?’ During the lockdown, I couldn’t go to the studio to paint, so I brushed up on my drawing skills. I played with videos and made four conceptual albums with musicians from across the globe. This was kind of funny to me. We are in lockdown, and I couldn’t walk five minutes to my studio, but instead, I could make music with musicians from California, Italy, and Cambridge.

Do You Have Any New Project You Are Working On At The Moment?
I have some ideas that I am exploring with my paintings. I don’t like to explain what I am going to work on until it's done. If you explain a story before you write it, why bother writing it afterwards? The same goes for when I am painting. I prefer to hold my cards close to my chest. But I can tell you I am very excited about it.

Dex Hannon

Dex Hannon (UK, 1972)

“We don’t need to follow predetermined rules. We can do what we like. We can have fun. I think that’s my inspiration. To have fun.”
Born in 1972 in Manchester, Dex Hannon is an abstract expressionist who moves effortlessly between mediums of acrylics, digital, sound, and photography.

Similarly to Mark Rothko and Gerhard Richter, Hannon uses music as his main source of inspiration. His art transforms the memories and emotions evoked while listening to music into dynamic and expressive brushstrokes on canvas. Hannon’s paintings are sublime pictorial symphonies characterised by an intricate weaving of lines that capture an infinite string of emotions conveyed through a range of textures and bold colour palettes.

Hannon gives a new life to his paintings by photographing them during the creative process and then digitally recreating them by combining multiple artworks. According to the artist, the technique of “digitally remixing” his paintings allows him to give life to a brand-new artwork that reimagines and reinterprets the original. The end result is often completely different from the original painting, yet it is still part of it, because, without the first, the remix would not exist.

Dex Hannon regularly exhibits in the UK, and in 2020 he was awarded the ‘Best in Show’ prize for the inaugural Art Folio Annual Award. Dex Hannon currently works and lives in Yorkshire, UK.

Instagram: @dexhannonartist