David Hepher is a painter. He creates art which lies in-between the conventions of both traditional and conceptual art. He doesn’t fully fit into any style of art (due to his quirky style). His subject matter often features various man-made structures, like houses and tower-blocks (although he has also been known to paint landscapes of fields and trees, typically in France), and he often uses materials like concrete or wallpaper to add to construct his work, in the same way an architect would. He has created many pieces of artwork for various well known and renowned galleries, like the Tate, and has been a lecturer at art schools like the Chelsea School of Art.
In the video Hepher talks about how his painting style is quite unique and how, in landscape, he wants the spectator to look at the whole piece as opposed to just focusing on the center- which he argues is what happens in a portrait. Each of his landscapes focus around an estate. He says they usually become a “consuming interest for two or three years” and that he “gets to know the place” throughout the painting process by collecting visual information (he isn’t interested in getting involved in the social aspect of the community). He calls them landscapes as he wants to put his position of viewing the buildings on them. He sees blocks of flats as quite impressive as opposed to ‘ugly’ or ‘beautiful’.
Hepher experiments using mixed media in his work, like concrete and graffiti. In the video he talks about what it’s like to paint on concrete. He sprays graffiti on the painting too. He describes using these materials as “the art of the real”. The more traditional background painting contrasts the sprayed graffiti and use of “real” materials.
He also creates nature landscapes, usually of French countrysides. They’re quite conventional and possess a traditional style of painting landscapes. He hopes they will be seen as a contrast to his London paintings (despite the background paintings being similar in technique). He thinks the French paintings are an “antidote” to what he creates of London.
Hepher believes what he’s doing should and will last over time and encourages interpretation of his work.
I love Hepher’s use of mixed media in order to create such realistic (and interesting) paintings. I love the use of graffiti and concrete which defy conventional art forms and classical ways of constructing a painting. I find this fascinating. I also love his housing estate subject matter. Large blocks of flats are things I’ve often found interesting myself personally. I find them fascinating due to their seemingly “ugly” look but interesting personality which can be portrayed in it’s surroundings (and also the fact they house hundreds and so contain hundreds of lives and secrets- something Hepher doesn’t explore himself). I love how Hepher uses materials relevant to his subject, like graffiti and concrete, which set the painting out against the traditionally painted background image. The actual housing estate image rarely covers the whole canvas and the graffiti ties the whole piece together often by filling empty space at the edges.
I am not as keen on his more traditional French landscapes because I love his unconventional use of mixed media so much in his London pictures. The French landscapes ooze conventional use of materials and don’t have the same appeal as the run down housing estates for me.
I am influenced by Hepher’s work to explore subject matter that’s often classed as “too ugly” to be captured in art, like the block of flats. I will explore using mixed media more in my work more too to create a visually stimulating piece which can almost be deconstructed into different layers- both physically and metaphorically.