Monday, February 03, 2014

Painters I Like: Duncan Hannah

 "Sometimes I feel ghetto-ized by people who say, 'oh, it's nostalgia,'" Hannah says. "The way I paint, I suppose you could find in a painting from 1935. But I had to teach myself to paint that way. Once I realized there was a narrative impulse I wanted to explore, I slavishly studied paintings by dead painters to try to figure out how to do it."

Hannah describes his work as "a trip through other times, done in a rather straightforward style" that he arrived at after artist David Hockney told him, in the 1970s, to "take all the gimmicks out."

Among the "gimmicks" Hannah abandoned: writing on paintings, and borders, and scribbly bits that were there to make a painting look jazzy. "Hockney said this was like putting your painting in quotes, and hedging your bets, instead of trusting your painting to itself," Hannah says. "He said, 'Forget about the zeitgeist.' "

"I was always an imaginative kid and I loved other eras, cultural history and art history and film history and biographies," Hannah says. "I always wanted to roam around in the 20th century, just as a novelist or a filmmaker might choose to dwell in the past."

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