Dil Hildebrand is a painter. His work has been collected by major museums throughout Canada, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and the National Gallery of Canada. He is represented by Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain. He lives and works in Montreal.
My work is always changing. Whenever people come here, they’re always surprised because I’m doing something different than last time. It just occurred to me that I should make a collage so I started making some. I’m carving into stacks of paper. There’s no oil or acrylic paint. It’s ink, mostly. I’m trying out different papers and fabrics. I’m not sure what’s going to happen.
Right now, I’m not working for an exhibition. My time is wide open. I like that the best. When I have a show, I’m very regimented with my time. There’s a certain leeway for exploring, but eventually I have to stick to my repertoire. Now, I can do this collage stuff that I’ve never done before.
I can’t seem to get away from making something that is seeming to be something else. In a regular classical painting of a vase on a table, there is pretending. However, what I’m trying to do is have the work physically pretend to be the thing. The texture represents the things they’re representing in a more tactile way. Sometimes it doesn’t work. There are a lot of failures.
I ruin things constantly. It’s torture. I can’t say I always enjoy painting. A lot of my process is about ruining something to get to something else. Sometimes it’s tricky when time is attached and I have a deadline coming up. I think, ‘Can I afford to just completely change my mind about this?’
This painting, for example, was horizontal and I didn’t like what was happening so I put it up vertically. Now I’m not even talking about the same painting. It’s literally changed 90 degrees. I’m going in a different direction. It’s like an Etch-A-Sketch–you turn the knob and now you’re going another way. I feel like that’s all I do. For me, the signature of a finished work is when it looks like it was always suppose to look like that.
I’ve been a painter since I was a teenager. There wasn’t a year where I didn’t paint–but I wasn’t a career painter all of that time. When I finished my undergraduate in ’98, I spent eight years painting sets for film and theatre. I was painting, but I wasn’t exhibiting. I didn’t have a CV I was maintaining. I was incognito.
It didn’t seem possible to be an artist, to make a real career out of it. In the 2000’s, galleries started popping up in Montreal and I started seeing a growing scene. I realized I could stop doing my other work and concentrate on painting and make a living.
When you’re a young artist and people are paying attention to you, you know it’s not always going to be this way. It’s a fashion. In the art world, people are going to look elsewhere at some point. You feel like you have to take every opportunity, every show. You feel like you have to step up and take the challenge but you can become really overburdened. I was overburdened between 2006-2009 and I think I made a lot of shitty paintings because I didn’t have time to think about what I was doing. I realized that I need that chill time.
–Dil Hildebrand, as told to Studio Beat
photos by Marlon Kuhnreich
Visit Dil Hildebrand’s website here.