Sunday, February 10, 2013 Filed in: painting
-- Darrell Hill
September 23, 1941 - February 2, 2013
We lost one of Hawaii and the art world's living treasures recently with the passing of Darrell Hill. Darrell's art enriched countless lives, and his warm and engaging personality made him even more special. His unique style left a distinctive mark in the Hawaii art community, and influenced a generation of Hawaiian artists and pleinair painters worldwide.
Darrell's style was characterized as bold impressionism, and is instantly recognizable for its intense use of color and loose gestural brushstrokes. Like the 20th century fauve painters, Darrell used color in a very non-literal way, often departing from nature's own specific palette in wildly interpretive new directions. Unlike the fauvists, though, his work was never garish or brash, but bold and sophisticated. Although vivid colors were laid next to one another in a style often characterized as "alla prima", they always harmonized to create a complex palette of emotionally charged, dynamic colors with tension, but not conflict. His brushwork was flowing and an extension of his arm and body. Some people paint with their wrist. Darrell painted with his whole body.
Rather than paint in a premeditative or deliberate style, I always felt that he worked his craft to the point that it was second nature, and that he painted much the way that Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello: never thinking about components like notes, meter or timbre, only the music itself.
I had the privilege of knowing Darrell and working with him on a number of occasions, and feel blessed to have crossed paths with him in life. A great many people are saddened to have lost him, but he leaves behind a legacy of art . . . a thousand little pieces of himself that will live forever.