Hannah Barry Gallery in London presents a new cycle of four paintings by British artist Henry Hudson. At once pastoral, psychedelic, crime scene and psychogeography, the works will be shown at the gallery with a large-scale, custom-fitted Scagliola floor (imitation marble made of polished plaster mixed with glue and coloured pigments) designed especially by the artist. The installation will create a mise-en-scène in the space, providing a scenography and stage for a series of new performances traversing pop and classical music, dance, poetry and theatre.
Working across sculpture, painting, etching and performance, Henry Hudson is known for his radical use of plasticine as a dominant painterly medium. Originally chosen for its inexpensive, theatrical and expressive form,Hudson’s use of plasticine has become a vehicle for novel experiments in painterly technique and expression. That said, nothing sticks to nothingmarks a conceptual, material, and emotional break with Hudson’s previous bodies of work (such as his ‘Hogarth’ scenes or ‘Jungle’ series), presenting large-scale works that are made using a combination of encaustic wax with his native plasticine.
The exhibition takes its title from the artist’s twisted memory of “I can connect / Nothing with nothing”, a line from ‘The Fire Sermon’, the third section of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922).Eliot’s words are spoken in reference to a melancholic, doomed, introspective and fragmented human experience -it refers simultaneously to Shakespeare’s King Lear, E.M. Forster’s Howards Endand Eliot’s own Murder in the Cathedral. Thesnowscapes of nothing sticks to nothingare a nod to Eliot’s metropolitan psychogeography, reconfigured in contemporary alpine terms. No less heady than any of Hudson’s work to date, it is clear that these paintings demonstrate a shift in mood and atmosphere drawn from the life of the artist himself, evoking a powerful and convivial meeting point that is both self-reflective and social.
The environment created transforms the audience-as-viewer into audience-as-subject, placing us at the heart of the paintings and at the centre of the contradictory psychological states they embody. Hudson has frequently referred to his paintings as the expression of ‘mental states’ -psyches that are tangled and lurid. The novel use of wax with plasticine has allowed Hudson to create works that are more expressive, frantic and looser in form that his previous works. The mixture itself produces a fleshy and cellular form, juxtaposing the eerie silence of his winter landscape with a visceral kick.
Within these works we are the protagonist: an unidentified figure lost in the forest, confronted by inner turmoil. It is up to us to construct our own narrative. We must find a path through the cold and perilous landscape to a rich and psychotropic headspace, all the while battling between the two. A programme of live events is to be presented in Hudson’s environment. These will combine novel responses to the work and space alongside major works from the performance repertoires. The ambition is to bring together practitioners from poetry, pop and classical music, dance and theatre to use Hudson’s environment as a starting point for their own performances.
About Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson (b. 1982, Bath, UK) studied at Central St. Martins. He lives and works in London. This is his first exhibition with the gallery.