Could you introduce yourself?
I’m Richard Hart, visual artist, born in Scotland, raised in South Africa, working and living in NYC.
What’s your life philosophy? How do you try to apply that to your work?
Wow, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually articulated a philosophy. I guess I try to live with as much honesty and integrity as I’m capable of. And to maintain a view of the world that tries really hard to stay childlike and curious and unafraid. I think those qualities can lead to good art. That and not being swayed by what everyone else is up to… which of course is incredibly difficult.
Could you tell us what you think makes you stand apart in the art industry?
I think that what makes anyone stand apart is a singular point of view. However, my work is explicitly concerned with Africa, which automatically sets it apart to some extent here in New York.
How would you describe your creative style? Do you feel like it reflects you?
Style is a word I loathe. I think of style as being like a jacket that you can choose to wear or not. That just seems too easy. What is harder is to strip away all the affectations that could be interpreted as style until you’re left with something so honest and so pure that it could only be yours. Which of course is nearly impossible. But you know, something to aspire to.
If you had to create one sentence that summed up your message to the world, what would it be?
I think it would be that we are all the same and that we’re all totally, exquisitely fucked up.
Could you tell us about a favorite project you've created? Why is it currently your favorite?
I’m usually so excited about whatever project I’ve got on the go, but once it’s completed I kind of lose interest and often become very critical of it. The project I’m currently working on is called “The shape of absence” and is a community based project in Newark, New Jersey. Basically I’m asking African Americans and African immigrants to donate an object that represents a connection to Africa. The amassed objects will then be exhibited as an installation and later redistributed to the public. I love not knowing where this will lead, but being responsible for all these objects charged with so much longing.
What are a few key tips for other artists that might be reading this?
The usual cliches spring to mind… just keep keeping on; stay true to yourself; don’t worry too much about being cool; clean your brushes before you leave the studio.
Do you have any rituals you do before you start your creative process for a new project, to get your mind and energy in the right place?
My work deals a lot with ideas of rituals, yet my life is curiously lacking in them. Mostly my projects develop over months and even years of thinking and planning and making.
What’s a typical day for you?
A typical studio day starts pretty early. If I can, I like to get to the studio by 8am. 9 at the latest. I’ll put on some music, probably check mails and screw around on the computer for an hour or so and then get pissed at myself. Then I might tidy up a bit… generally procrastinating and being intimidated by the paints. Then, when I’m really pissed off, I’ll mix up a bunch of paint and get going. I might go out and grab some curry or Mexican take-out, which I generally eat pretty swiftly back at the studio, before going back to work. 7 or 8pm I’ll clean up, pack up and head home.
Coffee or tea?
None of the above. Told you, sadly lacking in rituals!
What are some of your goals for 2017?
Collaborate more. Make good work. Keep my family fed.
What makes you happy?
Tracy and Bailey and Andie and time in the studio and occasional surf/snow trips.
Any closing comments?
Thanks for the love!