For Arizona-based artist Oliver Hibert, art is an escape from the mundane. As he is influenced by music, colors, death, life, beauty, ugliness, cartoons, drugs, sex, mystery and magic, he has developed a unique style of Surreal-Neo-Psychedelic art that dazzles the mind.
By bringing new life to the psychedelic art that flourished in the 1960s, Hibert imposed his own stamp on the genre. His art speaks both to the past and future, expressing a timeless mystery. Evoking an organized acid trip, his work is saturated with busy patterns, alluring figures, super bright colors and plenty of exclamation marks. The artist tackles the themes of sex, death, drugs and magic, juxtaposing imagery of looming skulls, all-seeing eyes, naked human forms and psychedelic monsters. This bizarre and complex wonderland where everything seems to melt is an electric escape wrapped up in surreal realities that challenge your mind in a myriad of ways.
Hibert’s work is prolific and versatile, crossing the boundaries of painting, digital art, 3D and video. He has collaborated with a range of top notch clients, from the Flaming Lips to Nike. His unique designs can be found on album covers, rock posters, music videos, skateboards, magazine covers, editorials, shoes, clothing and vinyl toys. Hibert also took part in the Hello Kitty® 45th Anniversary Group Show at Corey Helford Gallery (on display through August 3rd) that brought together 100 artists from all over the globe to re-interpret the iconic image of Hello Kitty and her friends in their own style.
PRØHBTD chatted with Hibert about the surreal world he has created, tarot cards, psychedelic experiences and much more.
Your work can be described as colorful, bold, fantastic, surreal and often psychedelic. What informed these aesthetics?
Well, when I was around 15, I happened to discover the whole world of ’60s art and music culture. I connected immediately with the vivid visuals and swirling sounds. It was almost like hearing yet understanding a foreign language you’ve never been taught or brought up using. Also, I am a product of the ’80s and was raised on cartoons, comic books and video games, which I believe have always left an impression of certain styles and characteristics on me and my art.
There are many recurring motifs in your work, including skulls, snakes, aliens, eyeballs and a lot of dripping everywhere. Is there a hidden narrative behind this unique visual vocabulary?
Some have a hidden motif, yes, but some things are just blatant or at times not even as deep as they may appear. I create things that are magical to me, beautiful things and scary things. Life and death—and the contrast between—play a huge theme in my work a lot of the time. Yet life and death have so many branches.
You recently designed a full deck of tarot cards. How did this project come to be?
Yes, indeed! I decided to recreate the full Rider-Waite tarot deck awhile back and took a good year or two doing so. It was a dream project of mine that I was obsessed with starting and completing! But to step back a bit, I was born into a very religious environment, so until I was about 11 or 12, many, many things were evil, forbidden and taboo for me. But you can’t hide everything from children. I kept seeing glimpses of tarot cards and was always intrigued and in awe and so very curious! Eventually, when I was a little older and out of that environment, I was free to start digging into all these wonderful little “evil” things that I was always so curious about! All those magical things have had a huge impact on me and my art moving forward, tarot being a big one.
You’re about to release your first horror flick. Tell us something about this film and the experience of making it.
I am working on a short silent psychedelic horror film! I am also creating all the music for the soundtrack as well, which may be my favorite part of it, to be honest. But yes, it’s something I’ve been working on here and there when I can, and the release keeps getting delayed as it’s all still in production, but maybe, just maybe, I can get it finished by the end of this year!
Your colorful designs can also be found on album covers, rock posters, music videos, skateboards, magazine covers, editorials, clothing, etc. What are your favorite collaborations?
For me, if a collaboration sounds cool or fun and if I have the time, I’m usually all ears since I love to experiment with many mediums and different ways to express art. I think some of my favorite collaborations are within the music industry creating rock posters, album covers, etc. I worked with Bonnaroo on the art for this year, which was really interesting and fun. We did this gigantic melting mushroom fountain that was painted in rainbow drips! It was really neat to see everyone playing with that!
You’re no stranger to LSD and other psychedelics. How have these experiences influenced your art practice?
Well, I think my story is the same as many others who have dabbled with the devil. Psychedelics can help an artist open new doors of perception within their mind. It can help you strip away some hang-ups and rust from your creative pipes. The pipes can pump out strange new liquids. The liquids can become consumed and synthesized within the output of your art. The bottom line is, it can really open you to thinking and seeing things within and around you in new ways that will affect not only your art but you as a human being. I think these experiences are good and important for people to grow. “Drugs” are not the only way to achieve these things, but through a culmination of experiencing life by living, [it’s about] trying new things and taking risks.
You participated in Corey Helford Gallery’s Hello Kitty show. Could you tell us something about the work on view?
Yes, this was a really fun mashup, and I am excited and honored to be a part of it! Hello Kitty is such a cute and wonderful icon. My painting, Mellow Kitty, was an alter ego version of Hello Kitty. She can be contacted by Hello Kitty for guidance through meditation. Mellow Kitty lives in a parallel universe with low gravity, and she is psychic and knows everything with her all-seeing eye.
Who are the artists who influenced your work along the way and whose work do you appreciate now?
Oh gosh, there are so many artists and art styles that have and continue to inspire me! I mean, I would start with the obvious generalization of the ’60s and artists like Peter Max, Keiichi Tanamii, Martin Sharp, Eduardo Paolozzi and so on. But I absolutely love Egyptian art, renaissance, Impressionism and especially surrealism. Magrite and Dali are gods. Currently, I feel like it’s hard to name artists who don’t inspire me in some way. You can learn something special and find ways to be inspired by any art if you look at it from the right perspective.
What’s next for you?
Art, shows, music, film, projects and everything in between, so as much as I can do while I’m still alive and here to do it.