David Hollier is an English artist base in New York City. He paints images using text, he calls it “Imago Verbosa” and recently did a large mural of The Cookie Monster in Bushwick NY. The text is Steppenwolf’s ‘Monster-
Hey David, being such a talented artists we’d love to take it back and ask you what was the first piece you ever created was?
I remember drawing on the wall at the top of the stairs. I got in trouble for it but it seemingly didn’t stop me.
What is your creative process like for coming up with each new piece having featured JFK, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill in the past?
It’s tricky to say really. I try to choose icons that have something important or relevant to say. Sometimes I just pick them because I like them and sometimes just because other people like them. Somebody asked me to do a painting of Joe Namath today, which seems like a good idea.
Have you always been fascinated with politics and if so what intrigues you the most about it?
No. To be honest, for years I had little to no interest in politics. Watching the House of Commons public debates on television, I decided that politics was nothing but the futile exercise of two groups of people deliberating taking the opposing view of the others opinion and blaming each other for past and present troubles; promising that they’re the ones that can fix them, then consistently going back on that promise. What intrigues me most is that we all believe in it, when we can all clearly see how screwed up it all is. I guess we have to believe in it. We have to believe we have the power to change it if we want. And we can.
I became more interested in politics when I moved to America. People are far more passionate about it here. It also led to a greater interest in UK and global politics. It is amazing how vast but intricate a system it is, and yet in some cases even a single person can help influence it so much.
And what’s the meaning you hope to achieve through your art?
Firstly, a reminder that we can change things, through examples like Mandela, JFK and Gandhi. But also my work is a reminder to always take a second look at things. The notion that there are more than one way to look at anything and if we take the time to study things a little closer we are always better informed.
If you could choose any building in the world to place your art on, which would it be and why?
The Vatican. Surely there’s a wing or something there that needs a little contemporizing.
With your latest masterpiece of The Cookie Monster, embedded with Steppenwolf’s ‘Monster-Suicide America’ would you say this is an ode to the current presidential campaign?
I first painted Cookie Monster in 2014. Steppenwolf’s ‘Monster-Suicide-America’ is a Vietnam war protest song. The powerful lyrics resonate just as much today as they did then, 50 years ago. I strongly recommend listening to the song in full. “America. Where are you now? Don’t you care about your sons and daughters? Don’t you know we need you now? We can’t fight alone against the monster.”
For me it referenced the continuing conflicts in the Middle East, but yes, it could also be an ode to the current political climate in the US, as well as numerous other global issues. What is interesting is how many current themes it does fit into, and regardless of the theme, or one’s personal stance towards that theme, there always seems to be ‘a monster’ dominating the scene. It reminds us how many monsters there are out there at the moment, all seemingly with an insatiable desire for more cookies.
Which other pieces is your personal favourite?
I haven’t done my favorite piece yet.
And lastly what does the rest of 2016 hold for an artist like David Hollier?
I have work at a show in Shanghai in November, and my main event is going to be showing with New Apostle Gallery at Aqua Art Fair in Miami at the beginning of December. You can contact me through my website (www.davidhollier.org) if you want tickets to the show.