David Hanes


“I believe that it was there, in the Laurel Highlands, that my romance with creativity blossomed after becoming captivated by my brother’s analog Pentax camera. The Camera became my gateway medium”

AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?

DH: I am originally from Toronto, Canada, though, in 2014, I moved to Berlin, Germany. My mother is a painter, and my father a musician, so I grew up surrounded by art, and my relationship to art formed naturally. That being said, I do recall being nine or ten during one of our regular road trips through the Midwest, USA. We would often visit museums and national sites. On this particular trip, we went to Pittsburgh to see The Andy Warhol Museum, and afterward to Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater (1935). I believe that it was there, in the Laurel Highlands, that my romance with creativity blossomed after becoming captivated by my brother’s analog Pentax camera. The Camera became my gateway medium.


AT: When did it become serious?

DH: I was raised a catholic and went to catholic schools until the age of fifteen, when I took action in rejecting God, religion, and tradition. At this time, I transferred to one of Toronto’s three art highschools, using my photographic portfolio for entry. Afterward, I went headlong into the visual arts, embracing non-traditional modes of representation, including performance, video, sculpture, and installation. Photography continued to inform all subsequent methodologies. I would reject traditional mediums—especially painting—until later years.


AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?

DH: This is a big question. So, I’ll simply say that I would not be here today without the support of my family, friends, and God.

Persona5, 2016 | Installation view “Powerless” solo exhibition at⁠ SPAZIO ORR- Camera Project⁠, Brescia, 2020.

AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?

DH: My work is of a conceptual nature. Typically, the work starts as an idea, a drawing, or a memory. Then I follow a set of parameters and establish a methodology that is determined prior to the execution of the artwork. I begin working within those pre-determined parameters, leaving open space for flaw, intuition, and humanness or nature. My fascination with the figure has been slowly emerging in my daily practice. I have been invoking traditional methodologies, such as drawing, painting, and sculpture. And, apparently, the two modes of production seem to be merging rather than diverging.


AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?

DH: I just make art. The results (or rewards) are beyond my power. That said, I once had a dream where my art was in textbooks and studied in schools.


AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?

DH: Presently, I am working with charcoal, aluminum, synthetics, concrete, paper, industrial inks, paints, steel, wood, as well as other spontaneous materials and things.


AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?

DH: When I am working on my art, I feel stimulated. Be that in the studio or out in a field. I usually try to follow a pre-determined and methodical rhythm that aims to emulate my original intention. So, to answer simply, sometimes I imagine the outcome, and sometimes not.

pretender, 2018, Heat activated dye transfer, 340×180 cm.
affection, 2018, Heat activated dye transfer, 300×200 cm.

AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?

DH: It all depends on what you mean by “understand.” The work is finished when the work is finished. Sometimes, I’ll think a work is finished, but then I’ll finish the work years later. The work itself determines its own completeness.


AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?

DH: Living in the world.


AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?

DH: This is another big question, but I’ll try to answer with a story. I recall learning about Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953) at an early age. Afterward, my understanding of art was totally annihilated—boggling my young mind. Then, while in San Francisco in 2009, I remember seeing the drawing in person and feeling a growing desire to get back to the studio and work. Eventually, I moved to Kansas City and began working on The Aware Series (2011-present), which inspired much of my later work.


AT: How important is the role of social media for you?

DH: Let’s just say that when I pass my online representation off to a highly-motivated individual(s), I will probably leave social media altogether.

Untitled (burnout), 2018, Concrete, foam, gear, debris, 53x60x58 cm.
Untitled (haunted), 2018, Concrete, foam, debris, 64×22,5×53 cm.

AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?

DH: This question deserves a bloody essay! However, I will say that it depends on which particular system of art you are talking about. If we’re talking about the online system, I’d really wish that collectors made more solid commitments. Otherwise, I recently had a conversation about the art grant system. We both agreed that the grant systems need to stop being so bloody monotonous!


AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?

DH: Resistance. Beauty.


AT: What do you do besides art?

DH: I am a practitioner of Zen Meditation, Ashtanga Yoga, and Ancient “Hellenistic” Astrology.


AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?

DH: Next year, I’ll be doing solo exhibitions in both Italy and Canada, as well as collaborations with other artists such as Richie Culver and Jason Gringler. Beyond that, I want to spend time in Athens, Greece, as well as Porto, Portugal. Otherwise, I choose to live in the moment and strive to let go of my expectations: the sister to disappointment.

Installation view, “The Tomorrow That Never Was”, Open Form, Berlin, 2018.
David Hanes (b. 1987) is a Canadian/American visual artist who has been living and working in Berlin, Germany, since 2014. His current practice includes drawing & painting, photography, and sculpture. The forms that predominate his work derive from digital and photographic manipulations that he started producing in 2011. These manipulations offer wide-ranging yet highly specific references to art on the Internet.

Often working in series, Hanes works with a mixture of enthusiasm and unease as he confronts questions of the present moment. "What does being an emerging artist in the 21st century mean?" "How authentic is my connection to reality?" and "What are the lasting spiritual consequences of working in front of an illuminated screen?".

The digital age has radically altered how we consume and learn about art, and Hanes negotiates and empathizes with these issues of digital dualism—exhibiting in both online and offline communities, including; 'Drawing/Drawings', Birch Contemporary (Toronto, CAN), 'Powerless', Spazio ORR (Brescia, IT), 'The Tomorrow That Never Was', Open Forum (Berlin, DE), 'Lossless', Pylon Lab (Dresden, DE), and 'Sophia', Ultrastudio (Pescara, IT).