Henry Hudson’s first solo exhibition with Unit London is first and foremost a celebration of colour in its purest form. Throughout Scapes, broad spectrums radiate as all colour hues eventually meet with their opposite. Yet, a single horizon line stretches steadily throughout, embedded within the very materiality of the artworks themselves. Almost mathematical in their precision, these works are a departure from Hudson’s intricately detailed nudes and jungle compositions. Here, the artist reduces experience to its theoretical essentials, resulting in his boldest and most abstracted body of work to date.
Hudson first dreamed up the idea for these horizon line pieces during the events of last year, while flying back and forth to LA for work. When looking out of the windows of these empty planes, identity and individuality would slowly slip away, yielding to a greater sense of perspective. Having grown up surrounded by religious ideologies, Hudson connected these experiences to a sense of being closer to a higher power and, as such, he began to think of new horizons. For the artist, these horizon lines can be found anywhere and everywhere. They are as earthly as they are ethereal, present in the skies above us and on the well-trodden footpaths and hiking lines beneath our feet, shared by people and animals alike. Equally, these desire paths are reminiscent of pilgrimages, pathways walked by innumerable human beings over countless centuries.
Although these pieces are visually very dissimilar from the detailed style that Hudson has become known for, they are created with the same materials the artist has been using for some time, namely plasticine and vivid colour pigments. Using pigments first produced by Yves Klein, Hudson mixes these with an adhesive and a small amount of alcohol so they can be sprayed with an airbrush. In an almost alchemical process, the concoction transforms from a soluble to a liquid then back again. Although using these same materials, the process has been adjusted to construct these works differently, producing different meanings. Instead of churning the pigments directly into the plasticine itself, the artist diffuses the colour atop the plasticine layers, ensuring the hues are kept in their purest and most luminescent form. Then, to create the horizon lines, Hudson cuts directly into these spectrums of colour, using a handmade cutting tool of his own creation. Akin to Spatialist movements of the twentieth century, the act of slicing through the artworks carries its own sense of physicality and theatricality. With the potential of ruining what has just been created, risk is always involved. However, it is perhaps this gamble that intrigues both artist and viewer.
In essence, this body of work represents something intensely personal for Hudson. The courage to create something seemingly humble and unassuming embodies his experience of growing up and developing as an artist. In an innate and instinctive process, Hudson perhaps does take a gamble with these clean and discrete works. Yet, it is the simplicity of these artworks that gives way to their timelessness, unlocking a multitude of meanings. These horizon lines are many things to many people; they are at once landscapes, seascapes, pathways, sunsets, sunrises or even vast views of outer space.