Hannah Barry Gallery: Henry Hudson 'Nothing Sticks to Nothing' (until 16th March 2019)

At the point of entry at Hannah Barry Gallery, the refreshing space in Peckham often cited as one of the catalysts of the area's total regeneration, we seems to be transported into a psychedelic wonderland. The exhibition's namesake is an installation of 135 Scagliola floor tiles, in imitation marble, in keeping with the themes and aesthetic of Hudson's work. The recurring motif of the tree, albeit subverted by different tones and chromatic choices, is instantly comforting, alluding to a strained but constant relationship with nature.

nothing sticks to nothing, installation view. Hannah Barry Gallery, London, 2019. Image courtesy of Hannah Barry Gallery 

London-based artist Henry Hudson's world is at once both fantastical and recognisable, the perfect marriage for precious moments of escapism. The constant pink hues are comforting in their ability to be aesthetically pleasing and 'pretty', the latter of which your brain processes whether or not you'd like to admit it. The canvases' contents are not necessarily contradictory to this pretty side, but aren't entirely sinister. Combining the real and the fantasy provides an excellent gateway for the viewer to absorb themselves fully in the work; this seems like a cliché but with open landscapes, void of explicit human presence, we find ourselves wanting to be part of the narrative, part of the environment.

Henry Hudson, Via Alpina - 46°29'12.0"N 9°49'34.3"E, 2019. Coloured pigment, petroleum jelly, calcium salts, chalk, beeswax, paraffin waxes, encaustic, acrylic and oil on aluminium board. 40cm x 30 cm

Amongst the dreamlike landscapes lie three portraits, very much in the same style. Hudson's mixed use of mundane or domestic materials alongside more traditional sources such as acrylic and oil paint give the works not only a deliciously textured appearance but a further narrative to the portraits. Curious titles featuring geographical coordinates add to this intrigue; the coordinates in my favourite piece lead to St Moritz, Switzerland, which again provides details on either the sitter or the artist; I would guess the sitter. The work, 'Via Alpina - 46°29'12.0"N 9°49'34.3"E', is of an old man who seems to embody real struggle; his eyes are barely open and the artist has embraced the painting's materiality to portray the subject with precision and a heavy dose of realism. Its outer layer, potentially the paraffin wax, smoothes over the surface as if evoking compromised senses, or cataracts.


nothing sticks to nothing, installation view. Hannah Barry Gallery, London, 2019. Image courtesy of Hannah Barry Gallery 

The exhibition is presented alongside a collection of texts and a very strong press release, which feels strange to say, but it really does summarise the emotions and experience of the viewer excellently. Its introduction describing the fusion of the"pastoral, psychedelic, crime scene and psychogeography" sets up the show perfectly, as the psychedelic merged with the seemingly peaceful environments makes for compelling viewing as well as an acknowledgement of beautiful materiality. 

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