It is said that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
To that end, it is unclear how flattered 72-year old LA-based light and space artist James Turrell is with the obvious comparisons between his work and Drake's most recent video for 'Hotline Bling', which the rapper hopes will become his first Billboard #1.
Turrell is a major artist of the Southern California Light and Space movement of the 1960s & 70s. The medium he uses is "pure light." In describing his own work, he states:
“My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought.
Drake attended the Turrell installation, "James Turrell: A Retrospective", at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2014 and was candid about his reaction to Turrell's work in an article published in Rolling Stone in February 2014. "I fuck with Turrell," Drake says. "He was a big influence on the visuals for my last tour." Drake was also quick to take to his Instagram to express his fascination with the installation, even captioning one snap "Lost." (Example from IG above in red ctsy @champagnepapi)
Drake must indeed be "Lost" if he can't give credit where credit is due.
When the art world was set abuzz with a fairly blatant rip-off of Turrell's work, the septuagenarian artist released the following statement via Art Law Blog:
“While I am truly flattered to learn that Drake f*cks with me, I nevertheless wish to make clear that neither I nor any of my woes was involved in any way in the making of the Hotline Bling video.”
Definitely a brilliant response.
Director X, who has shot with Drake previously for videos such as 'HYFR' and 'Started From the Bottom', adamantly denies the fairly blatant imitation of Turrell's work that is glaringly obvious to even a novice art observer. He states that any parallels between his work and Turrell's are 'accidental' and that his previous work on the Sean Paul video for "Gimme The Light" is actually proof of his previous work using similar lighting techniques.
We're not buying it.
Apparently, Drake has a lot of people trying to rob him of his energy. It's a tad ironic because he seems to be draining the "light-based energy" of a most creative visual artist. At the very least the dialogue about the parallels between 'Hotline Bling' and Turrell's work is interesting and may actually redirect more vapid Drake listeners to delve deeper into the arts and study various techniques, schools of thought and influences/influencers.
Hopefully no woes were injured during the making of the video but an acknowledgement of the strong influence of Turrell's work in the video for "Hotline Bling" would be a lot more respectable.
Alas, light installations and heavy inspirations.
Shout out to Hyperallergic for good coverage/some other visual comparisons between 'Hotline Bling' and James Turrell pieces.