Interview:  Richard Hart

Richard Hart lived and worked in Durban, South Africa before moving to his current location in New York, NY. Hart's work explores ritualistic practices and unseen forces, focusing on the spiritual landscape of Africa. Hart sees in African religions a sort of mash-up, a willingness to combine elements of Western religion, superstition, and traditional healing. His work creates a new and imagined hybrid of unknown rituals and mysterious totems.

Hart has exhibited in Durban, Cape Town, Berlin, Stockholm, London, and New York. 

Interview Questions


What is the name on your passport?
Richard David Hart


Where do you live and make work? (How does living in your studio or having a studio separate from your home effect the way you think about making art?)
Currently, I live in Brooklyn and work from a studio at the Elizabeth Foundation in Midtown, Manhattan. Before I moved to New York, which was only six months ago, I had a studio and workshop at home. It was great; my work was always right there and I could steal whatever time was available to get busy. I love my studio here in New York, but i definitely miss the immediate access to it. Now my time has to be more structured.


What medium/media do you work in?
I think of myself as a painter but i get very excited moving into new, unknown territory. My practice has at various times expanded to include printmaking, photography, video, sculpture, installation, and most recently, ceramics.


What is the subject matter of your work?
In a few words I'd say it explores the spiritual landscape of Africa, but from a speculative point of view rather than a documentary one.


What's your favorite person, place, or thing right now?
My favorite people are my wife and my two daughters. My favorite place is the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal - back home. And my favorite thing is probably the book I'm currently reading, Night Studio. It's about the life of painter Philip Guston.


What do you listen to in the studio?
I listen to a range of music, and it is on pretty much all the time. Currently I seem to be listening to a lot of Anthony and Willy Mason.


How do you explain your career choice at family gatherings?
Ha! To be honest, I prefer to avoid the subject altogether.


What community do you see your work living in?
Wow, that's a good question. I guess I always feel happy when people from back home buy my work. It feels very strongly tied to an idea of Africa, so it's gratifying when people from Africa embrace it.


Who are your favorite artists?
Gaugin, Tom Sachs, Rober Ballen, Kaye Donachie, Michael Borremans, Dana Schutz, Alexander Tinei, and Luc Tuymans.


How do you see yourself in 40 years?
Drooling and decrepit ... hopefully in the studio.


What do you hope people will think about when looking at your work?
I hope just for a deep emotional response. I think that's the function of art, and I would hope that mine functions!


What was the last exhibition you saw that knocked your socks off?
Mingei: Are you here? at Pace. 


How often do you show your work to friends?
Not too often, mostly because just having moved to New York, I don't have that many friends!