Featured in the Independent as one of “a new generation of Pop artists”, Hayden Kays is much more than that.
In a world dominated by political correctness, Hayden does not mince his words. Mocking and manipulating the ephemeral nature of popular culture, his work explores the most pressing issues, offering an exciting take on the media and the art world where his sharp wit has a completely free rein. Hosted by London’s Cob Gallery, Household Name is Hayden’s first solo exhibition showcasing his Typewriter and Impact series alongside a selection of new sculptural and installation pieces.
1883 caught up with Hayden at the opening of his one-man show.
How does it feel to have your first solo exhibition?
I’m really excited and apprehensive at the same time; I suppose waiting for the response is the most exciting thing and the most apprehensive as well.
I’m pleased with how the exhibition looks and I love this gallery, it’s a great space. I’ve been coming here for a couple of years now; I’m friends with people working here and, I have to say, we have a really good understanding of the environment.
Why Household Name?
I did it as a joke, I did it in the sense that I couldn’t be further from a household name.
I also like the idea of celebrating people who are not household names: I was talking to some people recently about a couple of artists and graphic designers, Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert. In the late 60’s and 70’s they made all the street signs: they designed them right down to the font they used and no one knows their names but everyone’s sees their art work every day. From my point of view, these people should be household names.
What brought you to the art world?
I think I have identified the point in which I decided to become an artist: I was about six, and I came down one morning and, I don’t know why, but I drew a bowl of fruit. When my dad saw it he said something like “Why are you doing this? I’ll show it to your mum when she gets up. It’s weird that you’ve taken it on your own accord to do this!” When she saw it she put the drawing on the fridge. When her friends came round they saw it and were like “Oh well done! Look what you’ve got on the fridge”, and I remember thinking proudly “Yeah, I did that!”.
Who are your favourite artists at the moment?
I still love Banksy, I’ve always liked Damien Hirst and I love loads of my contemporaries. I love Imbue who is a borderline street artist and David Shillinglaw. I think most artists hate each other and I don’t know why. I suppose it’s a kind of defence thing.
Have you been to the Damien Hirst retrospective at Tate?
Yes and I was really disappointed. I just really wanted to see the sketch books, I wanted to see how he came to create his art and there were none!
Where do you usually get your inspiration from?
There’s no particular thing; the constant consumption of things it’s probably where I get it from. I definitely don’t get it going to art galleries.
Adverts particularly and mass media are certainly a constant source of inspiration.
The Independent defined you as one of “a new generation of Pop artists”; I don’t know if this definition really fits you. I mean, your work has a more critical intent than what is usually classified as Pop Art. What would you say?
I would agree, I mean Pop Art is more celebratory. I think the true definition of Pop Art entails “being popular” and I don’t think I am popular enough to be classed as a pop artist. Before being like Andy Warhol and David Hockney you have to be a household name. I certainly don’t agree with the title the Independent gave me anyway.
I also think the subversive nature of art is much more relevant at the moment; in a way, I might say I use Pop Art imagery in a more subversive way.
Through your art you speak some uncomfortable truths and sometimes you even target other artists; have you ever got in trouble because of your work?
Yes I have, I’ve gotten some nasty messages. Have you seen my new website? When I did it some people posted comments like “You’re not an artist, you just copy, your website is the copy of Google”. I didn’t really know how to take those comments because of course it’s a copy of Google: that’s exactly the point.
As a last question, what’s next on your agenda?
I’m the artist in residence at Hop Farm; I’ve been curating a special exhibition at the Cob Gallery where the winner of Hop Farm Music Festival’s Create The Gate design competition will be unveiled on the 31st.
Hayden Kays – Household Name will be running until June 9th at the Cob Gallery, 205 A Royal College Street, London NW1 0SG.
Words by Jacopo Nuvlolari