Artist in Residence: David Horgan
On seeking inspiration in a world within reach with the vibrant London artistRead more
David Horgan is the South London based artist and printmaker creating abstract portraiture with an expressive approach to colour. Iconography drives his aesthetic, helping to shape a body of individualistic pieces which draw on unexplored nuances of the everyday. Here, he opens up his creative world, talking about his unconventional path and taking an all-seeing approach to inspiration when artistic spaces are off-bounds.
How did you get into art?
I’ve taken a somewhat convoluted path into art. As far as I can remember, I wanted to be an artist but it felt somehow unobtainable and elusive. I lacked the conviction to really let loose and give it a go, so somewhat misguidedly, I settled on being an architect, which I saw as a form of art and considered, at the time, a safer choice. I completed all seven years of training, which I can hardly believe now!
My mission from architect to artist was not a conventional one and I never had any formal training. I was basically de-railed from my architectural life by economic circumstances, and granted an opportunity to reevaluate – in spirit, I was not really an architect. I then had an extended period in ‘regular’ office jobs where I began to work on art in my spare time until I decided to commit, take the leap and become a full time artist.
How would you describe your style in your own words?
I would describe my style as emotive, loose, colourful and fast, all suffused with a healthy dose of humour.
Inspiration can come from anything, how I see someone put down paint or make a mark, a photograph, literature, poetry, a humorous soundbite, a texture or pattern, my wife’s dance moves.
What do you hope to convey through your work?
Almost all of my work is figurative, therefore I hope to convey a connection and empathy with the subject. With my portraits in particular, I hope to capture personality and spirit in an expressive style. In my broader pieces I tell more of the subject’s story and build fictional scenes around characters, integrating symbols, words, texture and patterns to connect on an emotional and aesthetic level.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
I take my inspiration from an amalgamation of everyday life and experience that I witness and see unfold, intermingled with popular culture and iconography. Inspiration can come from anything, be it how I see someone put down paint or make a mark, a photograph, literature, poetry, a humorous soundbite, a texture or pattern, my wife’s dance moves.
Can you tell us about your materials and how you use them?
I paint with acrylic, which I love as it forces you to work fast. This suits my style and I like to build layer upon layer of colours and textures which result in a rich image. Sometimes I paint over entire pieces, revealing only one of two elements that I think are worth keeping.
Where do you begin when starting on a new piece?
Often I trawl through photographs until I find a character that I connect with, which I then aim to capture the essence of, while allowing the image to evolve. I then move away from the photograph and let the image lead me.
Which artists or movements have been your biggest influence?
Henri Matisse, Henry Taylor, Danny Fox, Paul Gaugin, Jean-Michel Basquiat, William Hawkins, Jordy Kenwick.
What’s your earliest memory of the art world?
My earliest memory of the art world is being obsessed by Howard Hodgkin’s paintings when I was about 15. I studied him at school and loved his sumptuous use of colour and his ability to strike a balance between abstract and figurative. Something that I strive for!
Often I trawl through photographs until I find a character that I connect with. I then move away from the photograph and let the image lead me.
Where do you go to feel inspired?
In this strange world we now live in – which has more or less coincided with my career as a full time artist – the opportunity to go somewhere to feel inspired is somewhat limited. I have had to dig deep into my memory reserves, not to mention the internet! But I have overheard some very funny conversations, which have often been the starting point for my work. So I think I am mostly inspired by everyday life, wherever that may be. I do strongly believe, however, that the accumulation of experiences is vital in creating art and while my reservoir of memories has not yet run dry, I look forward to replenishing it when we can move more freely.
Do you have any other creative outlets outside of your art?
Yes, I am also a musician. I used to play in a few bands as a singer and guitarist. None of them went anywhere but I still play. Mostly covers, but I do occasionally still write.
How do you manage the pressures of creating art on demand?
I don’t think that any profession comes without time-related pressure and I consider myself fortunate to be doing something that I love. In fact, I find that I work better with a bit of pressure as it gives me focus. That being said, starting can be hard sometimes. I have a cold shower most mornings and starting a painting can be like getting into cold water. At first you’re reluctant to do it, but after you get in, there’s a rush and an enormous sense of achievement.