F2 Gallery gladly presents the debut solo exhibition in Asia by emerging young British artist Henry Hudson, from November 20th, 2011 to January 30th, 2012. Entitled "Between A Rock and A Hard Place", the exhibition will feature over a dozen of new paintings and a sculpture work by the artist. The major theme that runs through Henry Hudson's work is the value of art itself and the personification of this anxiety - the tortured artist. In his latest body of work Hudson has amalgamated these themes, only to make each of them more prescient and compelling with the new intensity and conciseness of his style.
Hudson is resolutely a painter, who, ironically, never touches paint. His chosen media - plasticine - is used as a pastiche of oil paint. This childish, churlish attitude to a classical technique is the backbone of his work. Is he disdainful and flippant of the masters that have gone before him, or anxious, overwhelmed and forever in awe of them? The viewer will never pin it down. He satirises the disproportionate fame and fortune of contemporary artists and our obsession with the tortured artists of history. The art world worships superstars - but does this sustain or destroy an artist's legacy? In a series of self-portraits, Hudson portrays himself as Van Gogh, his head wrapped in a bandage of fragile tape. This maimed figure is the victim of the commercial brutality of the art world, but he is a willing victim who has chosen his destructive path and enacted his own injury? It is a laughable, tragic image, just as the original has become - sold at an insanely inflated price but also endlessly reproduced - has the work not utterly lost its integrity? In the distorting bubble of the market, art is both overvalued and undervalued. It is a precious but fragile commodity much abused and misused.
The fragile tape is a motif running through out this collection of work. It calls to mind the trade and transportation of art as a commodity on the global market - art as an export of an individual and of a nation. What do people want the artist to be, what are they buying into? What image of ourselves do we export through their art? What version of their Britishness will sell? Lucien Freud - the collosus of modern British - painting is referenced here in a vast figure which perfectly lends itself to Hudson's plasticine techniques. It is a monstrous version of some of Freud's most famous and of course expensive works, but Hudson's is a more frightening portrayal of the monstrosity of the human body.
The plasticine gives the surface a more vivid, crueller quality, less forgiving to the flesh. Is this how modern Britain is seen? Inert, passive, hideous - somehow utterly dependent. This vast British nude, whose flesh mimics the cheap, bulging sofa that is her throne is blindfolded by the fragile tape. You cannot help but pity her, with her eyes covered we will never know if she is uncaring or ashamed. This piece has the same brutish energy as Hudson's early work, brilliantly utilized here. However, the dynamic is now contained - the mark making is far more concise and fastidious. This seemingly refined technique adds a new intensity and belies the still flippant humour. There is an ever developing seriousness.
His multiple self portraits always present a tired gaunt figure, with a sense of desolation and the ridiculous, some repeated in the full spectrum of colours - a rainbow pop art reproduction of himself. As Hudson leaves his twenties behind this body of work could be seen as a eulogy to his younger self and to many of his artistic heroes whom he neurotically clings to and childishly derides. The flippant humour will never leave Hudson's work, it's the life blood of his creativity but his work continues to develop ever more dimensions - like his plasticine clad canvases. His work, a mirror of his own experience, will always be overburdened, heavy with intention and wrought with anxieties and always depicted with the greatest care and skill.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Henry Hudson was born in Bath, United Kingdom in 1982. In 2005, he earned his BFA at Central Saint Martins in London. His recent solo exhibitions include "Between a Rock and a Hard Place", F2 Gallery, Beijing (2011); "The Rakes Progress", Roach Projects, Lodon and Sir John Soane Museum, London (2011); "Crapula", 20 Hoxton Square Projects, London (2010); "Knappin", Trolley Gallery, London (2009); "A Prayer for the Procrastinator", Cosa, Lodon (2008). His recent group exhibitions include "InVisible", Edel Assanti, London (2011); "Shoebox", Haunch of Venison, London (2010); "Wonderland: New Work from London", curated by James Putnam, Assab One, Milan (2010); "Peeping Tom", curated by Keith Coventry, Vegas Gallery, London (2010); "The Embassy", 20 Hoxton Square Projects, London (2009); "Don't Stop Me Now", Trolley Gallery, London (2008); "Group Show", 20 Hoxton Square Projects, London (2008). Hudson now lives and works in London.