New York-based artist Cj Hendry debuted her first exhibition in Asia last night, in collaboration with famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin, during Art Basel Hong Kong. The exhibition, entitled Complimentary Colors, takes guests on a journey through highly rendered drawings of thick oil paint in a rainbow spectrum and highlights the famous Louboutin red. Cj managed to find time to chat with Art Zealous about the exhibition, her OCD and how Australia shaped her as an artist.
Art Zealous: Astrology sign?
Cj: Pieces. I’m the worst type of Pieces, super stubborn and very bullish
AZ: Drink of choice?
Cj: Diet Coke. I don’t drink alcohol, so my choice of beverage is always Diet Coke, maybe two cans a day.
AZ: Favorite fashion designers?
Cj: Ellery, Dion Lee, Alexander Wang
AZ: This is your first exhibition in Asia, talk to us about the decision to debut in Hong Kong for Art Basel?
Cj: Yes, this is my first Hong Kong showing. I was presented with an incredible opportunity to show with Christian Louboutin, and the whole thing just made so much sense. I have been a big fan of the brand for many years and they were really excited with my new direction so the collaboration took on a life of its own. Many of my collectors are Hong Kong based so this is also a big reason for me wanting to show here.
AZ: How are you inspired by the Asian culture?
Cj: I love how the Asian culture is so excited by consumerism and excess. It’s fascinating to observe the way in which they interact with each other and their surroundings.
AZ: You’re known for your hyperrealism and black and white works, this exhibit is a departure from both of those things, why was this the perfect time to experiment?
Cj: It’s always a good time to experiment. I love a challenge and have been interested in pushing myself into spaces I may not have been ready for. Working in color was a lot harder than anticipated but I want to continue to push my subject matter and medium, I don’t want to become a one-trick pony.
Referencing product is becoming less and less important. When I first started, I was fanatical about brands and luxury goods, but over the years I am valuing other parts of my life, so maybe this is a starting point to inform a more conceptual side to my practice. Purchasing luxury and being completely immersed in the temporary high it offers is not as exciting as it once was.
AZ: Is there something intrinsic to hyperrealism that satisfies you, as opposed to other processes?
Cj: I have a severe case of OCD, I am clinical and have an extremely intense personality. Hyperrealism caters to my need for perfection, and as a result I feel very calm when I sit and draw. It offers me a meditative outlet where I can be in complete control. So little of my life is controllable, so I find sitting down to draw extremely thrilling and I can be as intense as I want and can create my works to my satisfaction.
AZ: How has being from Australia and now living full time in NYC affected your view on the world and your art practice?
Cj: I am a proud Aussie, my family and friends are still in Brisbane so not being close to them certainly takes its toll. In regard to my art practice, I am fascinated by the scale in which artists in the US showcase their works. It is very inspiring to be surrounded by the best artists in the world and its humbling to be relatively unknown in a new country and city.
AZ: How did the collaboration with Christian Louboutin come to fruition?
Cj: Christian Louboutin has been showcasing artists every year around this week since 2013. I was very fortunate to be asked to be a part of the collaboration this year. I was so privileged to be able to direct my vision and the CL team to be so supportive and allow me to have such much creative freedom. This is my first brand collaboration and a completely new direction for me and I am very stoked to have been a part of it.
AZ: How did you pick the colors you are using in this body of work?
Cj: This body of works consists of 40 small works. The 40 different colors were directly linked to a color wheel. The show is titled ‘Complimentary Colors’…on a color wheel a complimentary color is one that sits on the opposite side, blue and yellow, green and red, etc. The 40 colors were randomly selected and this series was a fun way to playfully launch into my first series in color.
AZ: What can people expect to see from the exhibition? What do you want them to walk away with?
Cj: The exhibition is by far the most important part of this collaboration. I really enjoy giving the viewer an immersive experience. The interactive part of this show is what I am most proud of. We have molded the famous Louboutin “So Kate” heel into colored crayons. Yes, there will be a pile of shoes sitting in the middle of the room and you as the viewer will be encouraged to pick one up and use it to draw on the blank white walls. It’s such a playful experience and takes me back to when I was a kid, playing with my colored crayons and destroying everything in my path.
Complimentary Colors, March 23rd 10am-7pm at the Anita Chan Lai-ling Gallery, Fringe Club, Hong Kong
images// courtesy of artist + Matthew Kelly