"I wanted something that summed up everything I do, not just art but also developing concepts"
Its name translates as “up-market” or “high-end” … so what better symbol for fast-emerging art brand Haut de Gamme than a bottle of expensive champagne?
Bottles of bubby, splashed and dripping with paint, are among the signature works of Haut de Gamme artist Alexander Hall. His subjects also include polo ponies, cars and packs of Marlboro cigarettes.
Hall went large on the champagne theme with his most celebrated work to date: a commission from Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts to mark their 200th hotel acquisition.
The installation, 200 individually painted bottles, has boosted international interest in Haut de Gamme. But why the branding? Why not plain Alexander Hall?
“I wanted something that summed up everything I do, not just art but also developing concepts,” Hall says. “Whatever I do, it’s under that banner.”
His creative instinct emerged in childhood. “It was more than just crayons. Hammer and screwdriver, too,” he recalls. “At six I was at a lathe making bowls out of tree trunks. I’d design a go-kart or do some painting.”
He has public school (Wellington) on his CV and a London mews address but talking of parents he prefers “hard-working” to “comfortable”. They taught him “to paint the back of the cabinet, not just the front … to put your best into everything you do.”
There were hard lessons. When just 16, he sold a painting for £950. Years later, it was sold on … for £35,000.
A blow? “I wasn’t doing well at the time, but it gave me confidence in my own ability. It taught me that I had to believe in myself, so I’m grateful for the experience.”
Hall’s big break came from entrepreneur Peter Jones, of Dragons’ Den fame.
“I was summoned to his office. He pointed to a wall and asked what I could do with it and I came up with an idea. He said he had 23 other walls in offices around the world and they all needed my artwork.
“That was the moment the game changed. It introduced me to a wealthy circle and creating work for charity events, like my first ever champagne bottle painting.”
Clients include F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo and Aston Martin, for whom he is currently working on a painting inspired by the Red Arrows.
Hall once burnt the candle at both ends. “But I’ve cut down,” he says. “I can’t do the nights any more!” Well, he has reached the grand old age of 29.
Currently single, he works from home, but rents larger studio space for big projects like the Intercontinental installation.
The 200 empty bottles were arrayed on the floor for painting, each with a board containing reference information on hotel locations. But what happened to all that champagne? “No comment!”
Hall adds: “I’ve been lucky, but if you want the good things in life you have to get up early. I feel I’m just getting started, and there is so much more I need to do.”
For more about Alexander Hall, visit www.hautdegamme.com