This week’s cover art by artist HEKTAD comes to us from the Mark Miller Gallery. Here, Miller discusses HEKTAD’s art process and style, and the message of love he aims to spread with his art.
Mark Miller Discusses HEKTAD
How is this week’s cover art, HEKTAD’s “FOREVER” (2022), representative of the artistic voice found in HEKTAD’s other recent works?
A symbolic image in HEKTAD’s work is the heart. The hearts in his paintings are multi-color and set to certain shapes and patterns. The hearts in the “FOREVER” piece — a title implying commitment into a heavenly infinity — sprout out like a spring harvest and prepare to spring forth and fly, evoking flowers, birds and butterflies. These get to the theme of rebirth and renewal emblematic of HEKTAD’s work and the post-pandemic lockdown tone I pursued when reopening the gallery.
HEKTAD himself has said he paints hearts not for himself, but for the people who are missing love in their lives, looking for love or who have lost love.
What does HEKTAD’s creative process look like when creating pieces such as “FOREVER” (2020)?
HEKTAD’s creative process is very spontaneous; he doesn’t normally plan the work out in advance. It develops on the canvas according to his moods and feelings on that day. For example, when he was creating “FOREVER,” he was feeling warmth and hence the red background. Then came the hearts within a larger heart to signify his positive message of spreading more love.
In what ways does HEKTAD’s work stand out from other graffiti-inspired artists?
While HEKTAD is a unique, standalone talent, I see his work as an edgier street version of Andy Warhol. His use of vibrant colors conveys a dynamically creative and constructive energy communicating and fostering love, encouragement and optimism that engage the viewer.
When did Mark Miller Gallery’s relationship with HEKTAD begin, and how has HEKTAD’s status in the art world evolved since you first acquired his work?
The relationship began many years ago when HEKTAD asked me for permission to paint the metal flower pots outside of my gallery on the sidewalk. HEKTAD rendered them with colorful hearts.
HEKTAD and I maintained a cordial contact and slowly developed trust, becoming close friends.
When New York was emerging from COVID in December 2021, I decided to ask HEKTAD to bring his colorful work to the gallery in order to set a tone of post-lockdown renewal through the art’s uplifting themes of love and affirmation in order to elevate the spirits of local residents and visitors of the gallery.
I received a wonderfully enthusiastic response from the patrons of the gallery and the local residents who passed by.
It was apparent to me that HEKTAD was the definitive artist to regenerate interest in the gallery and encourage people to explore the Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan where the gallery is located. He was the perfect catalyst as seen at the opening night reception.
The gallery became a mecca for New York City’s “Banksy from the Bronx.” It was a destination indeed, seeing attendees from all over New York City and from international destinations such as Zurich, Switzerland; Paris, France; and the Philippines.
HEKTAD’s style and “street cred” attracted an estimated 120 people on opening night, with people waiting outside the gallery before taking turns with others to gain access — including a man with a skateboard and a dog posing on it in a pink outfit.
HEKTAD’s art had a very successful opening reception at the Mark Miller Gallery. Attendees of the exhibit and friends of the gallery encouraged me to bring HEKTAD back again. They love his work and upbeat message and were curious to see what he would do next.
About our December 2021 opening, HEKTAD was quoted as saying, “My goal is to make art with a vibrancy that brings out the positive energy of people. And I was pleased to see this energy come from people in the form of an eagerness to be there for me and Mark. The attendees showed a lot of enthusiasm.”
What would you say has been the greatest accolade or achievement of HEKTAD’s career so far?
HEKTAD’s greatest achievement could very well be his going from a local artist hero in the Bronx — known for his artwork on subway cars — to receiving international recognition for his name and visibility for his work.
Examples of this prominence include government tourism agencies and foreign companies hiring HEKTAD to travel to other countries to do murals, which are used to either promote tourism or help advertise an organization or product.
HEKTAD has done murals in other countries like Germany, French St. Martin, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia and France.
How do you foresee HEKTAD’s career’s trajectory moving forward?
HEKTAD has a lot of energy and a passion to paint and create. I see a lot of great works coming from him while he experiments with new concepts. I foresee more people learning about his great talent and the uplifting effect of his art’s messages and themes.
This mental process and the subsequent followup to seek out his paintings at places like Mark Miller Gallery, in effect, will amount to the art viewer acknowledging and honoring HEKTAD and his work.
Would you like to share any closing thoughts or additional information?
On one hand, one aspect of his style makes HEKTAD’s work appear to be like a Bronx response to Andy Warhol’s approach to art. The imagination of the viewer can easily move towards other comparisons with Warhol when seeing HEKTAD’s artwork of Marilyn Monroe.
On the other hand, HEKTAD is also ascending to the same level on the pantheon as Bansky, with both appearing increasingly as yin and yang to one another. It’s easy to imagine a feeling of harmony from seeing the work of both artists juxtaposed.
To see more of HEKTAD’s work and inquire about purchasing, visit markmillergallery.com.