Daniel Hooper is a man of intriguing contradictions. A carpenter from a resolutely working class background, Daniel has quickly ascended to the upper echelons of the art world. With no formal art education, he taught himself to paint on building sites, but has impressed the likes of Discerner magazine http://www.thediscerner.com/the-magazine/ and Saatch https://www.saatchiart.com/account/profile/973853. We spoke to Daniel about his background and the hopes he has for his paintings.
“I had an art phase at school, but this never came to anything, so I left at 16 and went into construction. I was working on building sites around Europe, and in my spare time I used left over paint and remnants of the hoardings that shrouded the construction site as my canvas. I was playing with rubbish and painting on wood became my signature style. This got me noticed by The Discerner magazine, and then I became a featured Saatchi artist - which doesn’t normally happen that quickly.”
Since being discovered, Daniel has begun painting on traditional canvas. He says the decision to move away from his signature style was challenging, but important for his career. “I started painting on canvas as some people were uncomfortable buying a painting on such an unorthodox material like wood. Being that I was self-taught, I had to teach myself again to use canvas.”
His creative process is inspired by nature and today's self-alienating culture.
“I’m inspired by bird movements and wildlife and those quiet day-to-day observations of the world. No one has time any more. We come haring out the door to get in the car at 6:30 having shouted at the wife and kids and we don’t notice anything around us. We’re alienated by our phones and our busy lives, yet we sit and watch David Attenborough documentaries in awe. But we’re on planet earth and nature is all around us, we just don’t see it. If people stop for a minute or two to look at my painting, and maybe it makes them think about wildlife and what’s around them, I’ve done a good job”.
To achieve the striking feel of movement in his paintings, Daniel relies on his background in construction. “I paint in blocks, and build the layers slowly to achieve the movement and feeling I was inspired by. Once I’ve finished with a colour, I have a break and step back. It’s so important in art to stand back, otherwise you can’t see the bigger picture.”
The end result, however, is what drives his work. “When you get a reaction or sell a painting, it’s an incredible feeling. The work takes so much time, and the social media which spreads the word is also massively time consuming, but when someone parts with their hard earned cash to buy what you’ve created, it blows your mind. I’m addicted to that buzz.”
Daniel dislikes many of the conventions of art. His distain for the elitist element of the business, plus his untrained background, makes him a divisive figure. “The fact that I have no training and started by painting on hoardings annoys the purists. I think it’s important to take the snobbery away from art to make it accessible to a broader audience.”
His background means he gets messages from people from all walks of life. “I have school mates who contact me and say: ‘I fxxxxxg hate art, but you made me stop and think.’ I think if we all took 10 seconds now and again to stop and appreciate what’s around us, we’d all be nicer people.
His exhibition at Canvas Gallery (30 Nov - 3 Dec) https://www.canvasgallery.com/exhibitions/10/overview/ will feature around 15 of his paintings, and Daniel welcomes all to visit the Gallery. “I really want people’s opinions. As I say, I’m driven to make people think, so whatever the reaction - good or bad - I like to hear about it.”