Henry Hudson’s mind runs and gallops from one thing to the next, vividly recalling stories and events, sometimes leading to eclectic new narratives kneaded into skilful tapestries.
It isn’t an atypical story for a London artist: Hudson went to one of the schools of the University of the Arts London, felt underwhelmed, realised he won’t be an industry-loved designer, was impoverished by London’s cost of living, got resourceful with materials, discovered his medium, had a gallery that told him to make work that can be sold, he did and makes fantastically challenging work ever since.
Currently on vacation in the Grenadines, there couldn’t be a better time or place to speak to Henry Hudson. Tropical birds chirp in the background as we speak about his jungle paintings / sculptures.
The artist doesn’t work alone, too time-intense is the technique for a single pair of hands. Like in the Renaissance, Henry Hudson runs a studio with a tightly knit team of assistants who help realise his vision from paintings. They aren’t really paintings, they’re more like sculptures, each layer extending uniquely into space on top of another.
Made of industrial plasticine, each layer and overfold requires meticulous measurements and thought. In a machine called the “Z-Mixer,” pigment is added to the plasticine, forming a smooth yet precise body of seemingly melting colours.
Some inspiration comes from other painters— from the London School and the thickness of the oil paint of Kossoff and Auerbach, from Francis Bacon, from gestures like Willem de Kooning’s and from the plastic colours of Philip Guston. Hudson wants his work to be as overwhelming as possible. No easy assumptions to be made, no box big enough to neatly fit in.
There is no doubt that he is the sole artist in the studio, but he allows new assistants a certain freedom. As a result, some works feature a more collective spirit than others.
Turning away from narrative towards materiality, one can only be excited about new works to come. Only so much: there will be sex, wax and ceramics.