Henry Hudson. Sun City Tanning

14 Sep 2016 – 14 Oct 2016

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Sotheby’s S|2 is pleased to present Sun City Tanning, British artist Henry Hudson’s inaugural exhibition in New York.


This is Hudson’s second exhibition with S|2, following a solo exhibition of his work last year in London. The artist has gained recognition for his figurative paintings made from Plasticine, works charged with social commentary, steeped in references of city life and excess. For this show, Hudson has created an entirely new body of work comprised of eight large scale nature paintings which, while figurative, offer an abstract investigation into the artist’s philosophy of transgression and transcendence. Here, Hudson takes on the great and awe-inspiring subject of botany, observing the constant struggle for survival in the life of plants as well as hinting at Shamanic rituals of spiritual healing. These luxuriant jungle scenes allow the artist to expand the medium of Plasticine, producing sculptural landscapes, rich in detail, color and texture.

In his studio in East London, Hudson assembled the large imagined tropical environments from a wide range of sources, including photographs taken during visits to Kew Gardens, internet images and historical books of botanical illustration. With his jungle paintings, Hudson draws similarities to the practice of French Post-Impressionist Henri Rousseau and the American painter Martin Johnson Heade. Although these new works offer a departure from the human figure, Hudson continues his playful use of storytelling within his practice, using the jungle as an allegory of the human condition. The subjects are fantasy, even psychedelic, landscapes, brought to life by varying light sources, temperamental weather patterns and the scramble for survival. References to Shamanic rituals further explore issues of lawlessness, morality and enlightenment.

Shown alongside the paintings will be a collection of eight hand coiled ceramic pots, created in collaboration with the artist’s brother Richard WM Hudson. These tricolor painted vessels, organ-like in appearance, are comparable to carnivorous plants in their design. Hudson’s ceramic vessels refer to sacred artifacts employed in Shamanic ceremonies and Ayahuasca rituals.

Hudson’s playful narratives imagined or otherwise, reveal a true exploration into the artist’s medium and craft. For the first time, Hudson experiments with mixing his own color pigments. By employing nature as his subject, the artist traverses techniques hitherto unexplored in his practice. This series transports the viewer into other realms, prompting metaphysical inquiry into human behavior and endeavor.

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Henry Hudson


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