Exhibition: David Hancock ‘Time to Pretend’

Mikey as link, Pencil crayons on paper

David Hancock explores the space between physicality and psychological space using a  hyper-realist technique.  His exhibition Time to Pretend (The Hub, Manchester 3rd – 18th March 2011) elevates the ordinary to the  decidedly extraordinary.   Gaming and urban folklore are fused together in these intricate drawings.  This  realism was made even more extraordinary by the actual presence of his subjects (his friends) wandering round the exhibition on opening night, making their likenesses in these portaits all the more startling!

Daryl as Tifa Lockhart pencil crayon on paper

The work is escapist – yet it plays with reality –  a moment in time.  The artist  uses photographic images which he then translates into a narrative via little pixel like brushstrokes (or in this work, pencil crayon on paper).  The results are disconcerting – as the Gamers are simultaneously revealed, yet hide behind these roles, providing the viewer with flashes of revelation which are tantalising.

miriam as Lolita Pencil Crayon on paper

Hancock documents escapism in our youth subculture and whilst also referencing utopian vision.  The reality and unreality of these are what the artist plays with.  Escapism through computer gaming and role-playing meets utopia and in the Gaming portraits the individual is attached by an umbilical cord to their controller.  Hancock calls these works double portraits as in a sense he is simultaneously showing the two worlds of their personalities as they immerse their selves in their Game playing and their character roles. The work, though contemporary has its roots in Romanticism and the  utopian visions held by Ruskin, Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite.  The characters take on special powers, hints of which are shown in the portraits as they fly through time to become the hero’s of the now.  An interesting and thought-provoking exhibition by Hancock.  I shall look forward to seeing his other larger scale work.  To really appreciate these images please go to the artist website where larger versions of these works, including many others can be seen. 

David Hancock website here 

Images from  here and  here

More details of this exhibition here

20 thoughts on “Exhibition: David Hancock ‘Time to Pretend’

  1. Thank you, Lynda. I totally enjoyed my visit to his website. What a neat idea. It leaves me feeling eerie, these figures, dressed for their other roles and standing within the vastness of computer space (that is what the surrounded by white, floating on the page aspect does for me).
    I enjoyed looking at his other work on his website, also. I work in colored pencil from time to time and can appreciate the time and the effort to create the body of work he has displayed.
    He reminds me of another artist a couple years back who painted small trinkets super-realistically. They, too, floated on the page of white. It took me down memory lane as I viewed trinkets he had rendered that I collected in my youth. Great post! Thank you!

    1. Glad you liked this Leslie, and that you can identify with coloured pencil as a medium. I always found these very difficult to work with myself – but look at the great result David has produced! Definitely the right medium for the theme of ‘Time to Pretend’ – and a fascinating concept 🙂

  2. I visited the website and the drawings are good, but i have to be honest and say I can’t really see anything special about them. Some of the images created by gamers using various online creative packages are much more awesome and in some cases quite sinister in their amalgam of online and offline lives. I can see the link between the game and the real person but that’s hardly a new concept. So, doesn’t do much for me!
    Interesting post, Lynda!

    1. To each his own I suppose Jessica, but these are ‘proper’ drawings done from life (what I mean is sittings from real people). The creative package is the honest to goodness artist, not digital enhanced concepts.
      The artist has gone to his drawing board – to try to bring what is beyond.
      He has grounded his work in the art of drawing which is therefore traditional. Though his subject is fantasy, he has tried to straddle both worlds.
      Glad you found it interesting – your comments are always appreciated 🙂

  3. My reaction is between Leslie and Jessica’s responses. I like that traditional drawing has its place in his work. I’m less sure of the psychological states he refers to in his Generation X statement. I can believe for many individuals that their online “selves” are more interesting than their real lives and that doesn’t bode well for the future. After the planet has been completely ruined perhaps we can retreat further inward, but for now there’s real work to be done.

    1. Escapism from oneselves and responsibilities never bodes well for the future, but I don’t think this is a new thing. Each generation tries to escape the mess left behind by the past generation. The 1970s were pretty dire in the UK, Punk, New Romantics and Glam Rock provided a dazzing escape route as young people dressed as their hero’s to escape power cuts, strikes etc
      The Gaming role playing of this generation is centred around ‘hero’s too, another sign of helplessness. I like what the artist has done 🙂

  4. This whole artistic statement is far too intelligent for me.
    My head hurts.
    All i’ll say is that i like these drawings.
    They look just like computer characters.

  5. Hheh yes – good old art speak! We got a crack round the ear at uni if we didn’t use it 🙂 We were told ‘now you are going to learn a new language – and WE EXPECT YOU TO USE IT! All artists statements have to be written like that. I’m glad you liked the art though 🙂

    1. You see, that is why i hate educational institutions. lol
      You are told to reign in your creativity, control it intellectualise it.
      I might be wrong but that is how it seems to be all the time.
      To me creative beauty should be set free and be allowed to grow outside of rules and control.
      So i’d have told them to bugger off with their new language. lol
      Ha ha, just my point of view.

      1. Mmm not sure about art institutions reigning in creativity, but artists are required to ‘explain’ their work. For example; I don’t think that this statement by Martin Creed Lights going on and off is quite good enough;-
        (Turner prize winner 2001)http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/1698032.stm

        “And when asked the key question about the idea behind his winning exhibit, he said: “I think people can make of it what they like. I don’t think it is for me to explain it.

        “The thing for me is to try and make things, try and do things and show them to people – that’s what I get excited about.

        “I’d like to keep trying to do that.”

        I do beliee you have to be able to talk about your work, take responsibility for your work and not expect the work to speak
        for itself.
        Whether this is done in artspeak or not depends on the artist (though it is encouraged)
        What the artist says is more important than how he says it thougn…………..sometimes 🙂

        1. lol. i know my opinions don’t really sit well with a lot of people.
          I sure dont like anyone telling me how to do things, or what is right or wrong or what is bad practice.
          Like teachers often like to do (or least as it was when i was at school)
          So perhaps i am anti-institutional purely by nature.
          I hope i can explain my artist statement adequately.
          ‘To build up a vast array of skills that makes people go wow, i want to be an artist. If that guy can do it on his own then i sure can’
          (my portfolio differs but that isn’t my actual statement kind of statement)
          Anything more than that is just people speculating
          No doubt if i was successful an art critic would write a whole book about my aspirations and meanings and statement when it can be defined in two sentences
          Hope i didn’t annoy, i just couldn’t resist throwing my big old foot in there. lol

          1. Hhe do you Heck annoy with your opinions 🙂 I welcome the big old foot – its your opinion and you are welcome to it lol!
            But I have to say that I found going to university (late on in my life) actually articulated and freed my artistic bent. It helped me clarify what I was trying to get across.
            My whole ouvre is about communication (and it took a LOT of whittling down for it to dawn on me)
            I LOVE your artist statement by the way – Its YOU and it states clearly what you are about, your aspirations and your independence 🙂
            This may change in time…. You don’t have to use artspeak if you’re uncomfortable with it (and most importantly, if its not you!)

            All artists aspire towards honesty. You have it and that is one of the reasons you have a great following 🙂

        2. Oh, I hope I can jump in here because I love this discussion. The artist, I agree, should be able to explain his artwork. We are communicating through images, if only to ourselves. Many, who view art done by another, want to know the story behind the art. I like knowing that and I, oftentimes, have a different view of the work than the artist. It helps me to revel in the different visions we have. I want to know the guidelines of composition and how to use value and line, effectively. I see them as efforts put forth by those artists before us, not to hinder our work but to help us to soar!!! Time and time again I have witnessed artists painting the same scene and NEVER have I seen two alike. I can teach a technique to a class of fifteen and each of the fifteen results look different because “we” are different. The use of institutions and books and private art tutors or mentors are not there to obliterate anyone’s self expression but to, rather, offer them wings so they can soar!

          1. Leslie you put it so succinctly – couldn’t agree more with this as I Love to share the artists journey myself (and its pretty hard and a tad frustrating when your in the dark and an artist won’t take responsibility for what he’s done or thinks that no explanation is necessary)
            Whenever I see a piece of art I like I always want to know how it came about and am disappointed when theres no info.
            You make a good point about artistic differences and the way that artists explore and give expression to the same subject.
            Art is exhilarating and an art tutor is there not to stifle but to try to stimulate and inspire. What is great about working with like minded people is the feedback, the bouncing of ideas and the feeling of that creative surge which goes around and round and which we can all learn and share in 🙂

  6. I’d like to chime in here about artist’s statements. Once in a while, what the artist says or puts into writing can be elucidating. Part of me, however, agrees with Artswebshow that ultimately a successful work of art needs to stand on its own. Increasingly, I have found that the artist statement is necessary more for marketing purposes than educational ones. The visual arts certainly have a professional aspect to it and like other professions it has its own terminology that can confound the public. I also believe that an artist’s statement can also hurt an artist when it becomes clear that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about…this hypothetical artist could be excellent about making art, but poor in articulating it. That’s why the art needs to be made to begin with.

  7. I agree so far as the professional aspect is concerned, but I don’t agree with art speaking for itself at all.

    This is the kind of statement that I highlighted in my answer to artwebshow (Martin Creed not taking responsibility nor giving an explaination or thinking he has to take responsibilty for his work ) Surely he knew what he had in mind?

    The day of the ‘misunderstood’ artist is as dead as the artist living in a garret 🙂 If there is a conception behind the art (as opposed to automatic art) – then I’d like to be informed, not left to prop it up with what I may make of it.
    I might for example like the conception (the idea behind it – yet not the art itself) In any case I’d like to know so that I can judge (in my humble opinion) if it works for ME.

    As artist’s we express ourselves firstly in our art, but also it is important in HOW we explain and put across our work. To suggest an artist doesn’t know what he’s talking about seems most unfair to me.

    Ideas come from somewhere, they are a starting point and sometimes the original idea will start that journey. I’d like to share it 🙂

    1. I think every artist, at the point of creation, knows what they know about why they created what they did. It matters not at what point they are in their understanding. We are all on some level of understanding even when we are “babes” in our journey. Because an artist may not be very well versed in “art speak” does not mean he or she does not know what he or she is talking about when referring to their own creation. They become an artist the minute they pick up media and begin to create. I draw no lines. An artist is one who creates. If I had to know everything in order to share what I know of creating art with my students, I would stop teaching today. An eversion to education in art may just be a personal preference or caused by someone else having told another they don’t have the skills to be an artist. There are many in the art community who seem to have very little acceptance of those beginning their journey and often dampen another’s aspirations to continue and to share, verbally, why they created something they have.

      1. Couldn’t agree more about art speak, you don’t have to know it to discuss your work. All I do know is that when someone asks you about your work, you answer as honstly as you can (in any language) and in some cases you may even have to defend it.

        Theres far too much pomposity about art and there always has been.

        Do it, know WHY you did it and when someone asks you about it – be able to tell em in your own words or use artsspeak. That was the crux of my arguement which has been distorted.

        This debate is now closed Leslie (and for obvious reasons) , thanks for your valued contributions 🙂

  8. Wow! Congrats Lynda…your post has generated a lot of thought and feeling that people feel compelled to reply to! I’m curious about something though…since your blog is extensively about the visual arts. Are you frustrated by most of art history since in most cases we have no written statements? I would guess that you are not disappointed because ultimately works of art require no frame of words because they “speak” to us directly. That’s true expression. Have you ever gone into a gallery where the artist’s statement didn’t square up with the art? I’m no longer talking about Mr. Creed’s work which is compelling, but rather art in general. We don’t always have the luxury of knowing what the artist intended or whether that intention was realized. It isn’t necessary to the essential experience of art.

    1. We may have no written statements about some of the visual arts – but at least we know something about the artists who made them…thats why its called Art History. Their ideas began somewhere, its called settting the artist in its own conext. Plus you will usually find the artists influences at least.

      I never said it was NECCESSARY to know the artists intention, I actually said I would LIKE to know. Some art does NOT speak for itself in MY opinion.

      I’ve actually been in a great many galleries and been puzzled by statement/work. And your point is?

      Nor have I said that I have to understand the statement to understand the work. I HAVE said that I sometimes like the idea behind the work rather than the work itself.

      For the last and final time I WOULD LIKE to know where the idea came from, and since I do NOT have the luxury of actually knowing the artist a statement would be nice so I could share that journey. Clear?

      Disappointed? never about art. I reserve that for people who I have come to respect and who come onto my blog talking down to me in an overly pompous way in order to score points for themselves.

      I know you would like this kind of show off point scoring ‘debate’ on your own blog. May I suggest you continue it there. Good luck!

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