Hand-pulled screenprint on cotton rag paper
Courtesy of the artist
With supernatural strangeness, Dan Hillier portrays the heads in his “portraits” as a source of creative power. The faces are obscured, yet the heads radiate a mysterious, perhaps malignant force. Like Victorian women wearing heavy mourning veils, his figures have their identity hidden and this simple act of covering may communicate emotions as varied as shame, the erotic, or the fragile eroding of the interior ego.
Hillier bases his prints on collages and ink drawings created from his imagination and found imagery he gleans from old books and illustrations. The compositions he favors contain a single human figure combined with varying elements of animal, plant, and mineral forms. These “characters” act as composites of human and non-human attributes, inspired by ancient mythological beings, Eastern religious symbols, Victorian freak-shows, dream imagery, and not-so-subconscious sexual desires. Hillier’s subjects are generally abstracted into blank spaces devoid of context, either monochromatic or occasionally touched with gold.
Hillier’s work embraces the power of line—the spiral black nimbus cloud of lines bursting from the head in Ellipsis, the diagonal beams radiating from the head of Akasha, and the thicket of lines that become a forest in Ghost. Interestingly for an artist working in collage, he describes his work not as accumulative, but as an evacuation. He drills down into a hyper-Victorian world to provoke wonder, humor, unease, and ultimately his own sense of truth.