Trickster – Dan Hillier

Do you ever have one of those weeks when you just feel that inspiration just comes up and slaps you in the face? Maybe not everyone has these, but I do. I definitely see beauty in a lot of things that others don’t, but this week I have seen some amazing things which I will be writing about over the next few days.

My first introduction to Dan Hillier was a few years ago when I was eating in a restaurant called The Alchemist in Birmingham. His art work lines the walls and as I sat drinking cocktails I was mesmerised by the amazing style of his work. Back at that time I wasn’t writing, so I just marked up to an amazing visual experience. Fast forward to Thursday night of this week. I was in Birmingham with a colleague for a conference and I remembered The Alchemist, so we went there to eat. Walking in, I was once again mesmerised, by the artwork on the walls and on the menus. This time I made a mental note to take the artists name, and even went so far as to take a photo of one of the menus and pop it on Instagram as a reminder more to me than anything else that I wanted to write about this amazing artist. How shocked was I when he popped up on my post telling me that the art work on the walls was his, but the menus had just been created in his style! Now, I never consider myself an expert on anything really, but I found this really embarrassing, especially as I had asked one of the staff in the restaurant if the menus had been created by the same person.

I mention this as I think it is really important for people to recognise that it’s so easy these days to replicate art work which takes away from an artists unique style, especially from such an amazing artist as Hillier.

To round off the story, I apologised for the embarrassing oversight, to which he was lovely about, so thinking I would strike while the iron was hot, I also asked if I could write about him, which is something I try and do when artists are interactive with me. Needless to say, he said yes…

Hiller is a London based artist, who has worked on creating exhibitions of his work as well as collaborating with others such as the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the BBC for the opening titles of Requiem.

Hillier’s style has an embodiment of the Victorian era, with juxtapositions of humans and animals, making his work a spiritual hybrid of the macabre and fascinating. His works come in Giclee prints and screen prints, which give an extraordinary depth to the pieces adding to the ethereal feel of the pictures.

I selected “Trickster” as the piece to showcase for this article as it has an air of the unknown about it. A gentlemen’s mask hiding snakes.. The gentleman is well dressed, but the tie dishevelled from the constriction of the snake around his neck.

If you take away the snakes, this looks essentially like a Victorian photograph. The serious face, and dress, harking back to an era when photography was expensive and for the elite. The well manicured facial hair is the finishing touch to his gentlemanly demeanour. Then behind the mask – a snake pit. I don’t think I have to reiterate the symbolism of the snake… manipulating and chaotic – although the snake can also represent rebirth…but I don’t get that impression from this.

The name of the piece, does make me think about the Norse God Loki (please don’t think about the “Thor” film franchise when I say Loki… he was much cleverer than the one shown there). Loki was a God who was out for his own means – Sometimes assisting other Gods and other times acting maliciously towards them. He would manipulate situations to get the best out of it for him… which is how I see this gentleman. There is a story of Loki and snakes which are placed above his head while he is bound, the venom of the snakes must be collected in a bowl, which has to be emptied, as the bowl is emptied, venom drips down on to Loki, causing him pain and he creates an earthquake, which then impacts all of those around him. He, like the “Trickster” uses his own powers for his own benefit as Loki manages to escape from his snake pit through the commotion.

Hillier’s style appears to use reflected images and concentric patterns to give a multi layered affect to his work, which adds such a depth to the identity of the pieces that he produces.

You can find Hillier on instagram by looking for mrdanhillier, and I can’t recommend enough that you at least take a look at his amazing style. You can also see more of his work here.

What do you see when you look at “Trickster”? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?

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