Manchester to the outskirts of Huddersfield; a journey which to many would appear unremarkable has been anything but for Dex Hannon
Dex’s personality, much like his relationship with his craft, oozes an authentic truth. From his earliest memories of painstakingly recreating every detail of comic strip characters, all the way to his work of recent years; Dex has allowed his life, his interests and his artistic skill to evolve organically.
Hannon’s most recent pieces have involved producing completed paintings which could happily standalone as a viable work, and then reimagining them with illustrator and photoshop to become something quite converse.
The smooth, fluid strokes of his painted work are harshly pitted against the strong geometric lines of an upper digital layer, perhaps echoing the polar nature of the artist’s past and present. When asked why Yorkshire was his chosen artistic base, Dex said that despite his youthful misgivings about crossing the pennines: “Everyone is influenced by their environment and here in Yorkshire I always feel so connected.
“Even through the architectural materials, I feel connected. I only have to walk for a few minutes and I find myself in the most amazing places. Just the stone of the buildings compared to the red bricks I was surrounded by in Manchester – the way the light interacts with them is so different.”
Due to the vibrant shards of colour which Hannon’s digital editing empart onto his work, many audience members could be forgiven for viewing the images purely as contemporary, ultra-modern works. There is however, a catalogue of personal history in each canvas – even the computerised techniques are born from the artist dredging the depths of youthful musical exploration.
The remix is where Dex first discovered the notion of toying with an original work to take it to a whole new place. The product of a television-free, Mancunian household, Dex’s consumption of music and literature are what always has, and continues to, inform his work. B-sides and remixes are what stimulated his desire to take something beyond simply what it is. He knows there is always a whole lot more, it just needs to be awoken from its slumber of conformity.
His most recent series, ‘Chaos Agri-culture’, demonstrates the stark differences – along with some unexpectedly fitting amalgamations – of what could be construed as analogue and digital. In a world hurtling towards unilateral digitisation, Dex provides evidence that both can co-exist – whether happily or abrasively.
He – as many artists now have to – offers his work for sale as a digital file. This certainly doesn’t mean he is a supporter of an unlimited supply of these images making their way around the world. When selling a digital image, 10 copies are all that are made available before he personally destroys the hard copy. A cheery two-fingers held up to all those who wish to make a quick buck at the expense of a hard-working artist.
After pouring energy into the Broken Toy Company (a collective well worth a closer look for any self-respecting Yorkshire art fiend), this year looks set to revolve solely around the work of Dex as an individual. In typically self-effacing style, Dex said it looks as if things might “really be taking off” – a serious understatement for an artist who has received attention, praise and a warm critical acclaim in ever-increasing bucket loads over recent years.
Two statements throughout his interview with Yorkshire Art were more prominent than most: “I don’t believe there is anything after this,” and “You’re only alive until the last time a person talks about you.” These utterances were striking, not because of their morbidity, but because of the strength of belief behind them.
Dex truly believes this life is the only one he will receive. He, in no uncertain terms, will be firmly grasping every opportunity he can to express himself in this particular incarnation.
Dex Hannon. Don’t miss your chance to see his work in this lifetime. You might not get another one.
by David Styles