As you know, at De Parma we love British art.
Over the course of 10 days, we have been hosting a fabulous exhibition, showcasing the many wonderful pieces by Robert Hardy, who depicts a beautiful insight into London life.
Whilst his work paints it’s own wonderful picture, I wanted to know who the man is behind the art. Here’s a little insight into Robert Hardy and his work.
Who are you and what was the spark, which ignited Robert Hardy Art?
My art in some ways defines who I am, in the sense that it’s about making paintings about living and being in the world and especially about relating to other people, individuals, groups and communities. I think it’s making paintings that affirm something positive about the world in terms or joyousness and hope. It’s about being alive to it all really.
As I’ve gotten older, I am now at 62, I sometimes wish I was younger. So many other places that I grew up in, lived in and studied in have gone. Maybe I’m creating paintings with a sense of solace – holding on to what I think is good. We have to accept that everything changes. Change is inevitable. I think that these pictures with people are an attempt to make something permanent in the face of change. It’s the flux of life.
How would you describe the style of art that you create?
Its oil on canvas; I think the style is very direct. I like to paint mostly on a white background, draw out my ideas on the canvas and build up the composition that way. I like structure. My style is very simple, flat, without much depth, and as I get older it’s been simplified even more.
In what way did you develop your own unique style over the years?
By trial and error, testing it out and developing something. Style is often determined by subject matter. What I’m painting is a small area of crowds, cities, groups and people in environment. So its finding a style to represent that really, which is something that you try out over the years until you find a style which suits what you want to say.
I love that you love London and this is really evident in all of your work. What inspires you about London and it’s city folk?
Its always inspired me. When I first came down to London in the mid 70s it was very different to what it is now. I lived just close to the gallery initially. I think the thing about London for many people, including myself, is that you can be who you like here. You are not tied to where you come from. It’s possible to belong here as part of a very diverse group of people and feel good about that. I feel quite euphoric about that, because people from all over the world have come together in London. It’s like a meeting point of the world in many ways with such energy, even when you just walk around the streets. I’ve never been anywhere like it in the world.
How do you see your work evolving over the next coming years.
I think the present work in the show will determine my work over the next few years. I’d like to work on an even bigger scale, which is sometimes not physically possible due to space. I’d like to simplify my paintings even more, go back to the same subject matter, which I have already used and do it again. Working on the same motif. I like the idea of returning to an idea, refining it and changing it rather than jumping around and doing different things.
If you did change your idea, what would you change it to?
I think that the only way that I would change, would be if you put me into a different environment. If you said to me, go and live in the Bahamas or Bali for 6 months, I would still have to paint – painting is my way of surviving, my way of coping, its my doctor, my priest and the way that my style would change would be by being in a different place.
Who are your most inspirational artists who have aided to mould your love for art over the years and what have taken from them?
The biggest influences have been the paintings of non-professional artists, such as children’s art. Primitive art. From outsider artists. The art of insane people – who make incredible works of art, artists who are slightly out on a limb, slightly odd, slightly obscure and of course British art. I see myself very much as part of the tradition of British art. I particularly like artists who paint the urban environment like L.S Lowry, Julian Trevelyan and my tutor at Stoke on Trent, Arthur Berry who was a huge influence.
Other than art what are your true passions in life?
Music – classical music especially is a huge and important part of my life.
I also love reading and have always read a lot of everything but literature, poetry and philosophy in particular.
Do you feel that they have added to your art?
I don’t think so. I’d hesitate to think that there’s a direct connection there.
There isn’t a literary narrative in a painting, otherwise it becomes an illustration and I don’t want that. I don’t want my paintings to think too much. I want my paintings to be paintings.
What I would say is that there’s a philosophical and religious search in my paintings, like a search for meaning and order in things. Holding on to things like hope and love which corresponds to a deeper search.
What would you like the public to know about Robert Hardy Art?
I think the artist is relatively unimportant. If the paintings are going to have any meaning they have to have a life of their own. They have to stand on their own and speak for themselves. I want them to make people feel good about living and being in the world. As images I want people to look at them and smile, to get joy and pleasure from them.
What have been the most prominent milestones of your life journey to date?
Surviving. I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve had such a supportive family. I’m also lucky to have been able to make a career and life out of art, as a painter and a teacher – I taught in schools and colleges for 30 years.
What is your favourite piece out of your collection and what makes it so?
I don’t have a favourite piece. I like something in every painting that I do. Each time that I come back to my work, I see something different. As nothing is permanent, your view of art changes. I’m comfortable in my work and I’m happy that it works and that’s what’s important. It requires a lot of effort to make a painting. It’s a struggle. Maybe if it was easy you wouldn’t do it. I think you measure success by how you are able to come through that struggle of making a painting and produce something at the other side that is lasting.
Interviewed by Veronica Amarelle.
For more information on Robert Hardy’s work or to purchase one of his pieces, please contact us at the gallery.