Art Review: Hominidae – Henry Hudson @ TJ Boulting

Henry Hudson is an artist who creates insightful portraits of his family members, but instead of using the traditional medium of paint he uses plasticine. By melting it down and using his hands to manipulate it, he’s able to give his works a texture and density that’s rarely seen.

This material enables him to create both the ridged uniformity of the wallpaper and the flowing creases of a bed sheet. It also allows the featured persons to be elevated above the rest of the work creating a feeling of closeness with the observer.

Despite all the subjects being dear to the artist, the use of fragile tape in all his pieces references the tentative nature of life and relationships. All of the portraits are purposefully in bedrooms, as this is both the location of sleep and love, yet also of break-ups and deaths.

The most telling work is of the artist’s mother and stepfather. They are in a comfortable pose with her legs on his lap, yet they look out of the picture as if unaware of the person next to them. Despite the intimate setting, they may as well be many miles apart. It’s unclear whether this is a reflection of their lives, how the artist sees them or how Hudson would like them to be. These works are reminiscent of Freud’s, which often show the hidden feelings within each of his subjects.

Plasticine is a child’s toy and in these pieces it has been used to create portraits on the adult themes of relationships and mortality. This contrast furthers the potency of the portraits in this small yet insightful exhibition.

Hominidae: Henry Hudson is on display at TJ Boulting, 59 Riding House St, W1W 7EG until 26 January. Admission is free.

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