With a relatively swift trajectory, Hush has fast become a significant figure amongst the new, avant-garde class of artists whose techniques are derived from a blending of street, design and traditional elements.
The vast majority of Hushs work is infused with swirling, seemingly chaotic urban mark making. His style conveys a remarkable unity of modern scratchings and classically beautiful portraiture – littered with figures akin to the hovering, projections of beautiful women often found within futuristic dystopias and visions.
Glamoured, colourful and quintessentially feminine, these neo-classical portrait sits central to his work, yet each of them pay homage to their explosive surrounds. These markings, splayed and laid down in a multiplication of strokes, often read, deliberately, as abstracted tributes. From places that he has travelled to, to the people that he has met along the way, their graffiti narratives hint at deeper, hidden storylines below the surface.
The artists graceful ability to combine these varying elements may very well be one of the essential nuances behind his success. His work is forward thinking, fresh and combinatively appealing. His ever progressing style has evolved rapidly, and his work is now counted as a collectable asset for any art lovers – and for good reason, as his is a unique viewpoint, beautifully rendered.
We caught up with Hush for an interview on the eve of the official launch of his show, Sirens, at Melbournes Metro Gallery – a show for which he has been preparing for many months. So read on and enjoy a fantastic glimpse behind this enigmatic artists work …
We’re curious as to whether there was a defining moment where you realised that you had struck out in a new direction with your overall work, and what if anything spurred this on? From tagging and graff, to graphic design, and everything in between, was it a natural progression to take all of those elements and imbue your work with them?
Well from being a kid, art was always going to be my way, a lot of my family are artists, lecturers and so on, so it’s always been a big part of my life. Growing up through the early Hip Hop generations and everything that went with it was a big influence, and I was always interested in what was coming out of other cities in the world.
I was never big into graff, or writing, but always played with it - because I was good at drawing, I’d often draw for older crews. I came through the UK rave/dance scene which was a big influence and started doing nights so I could make posters and go fly posting, that was kind of the start of effecting work on the street – and I was turned on to seeing it ever changing and decaying. I’ve always been interested in how graffiti was being reintroduced and how it was influencing styles and fonts, but never really being accepted as its own art form.
Designers Republic, Von Oliver, Neville Brody and Swifty, all based in the UK, were playing with all these ideas and pushing things forward through their design, and were influencing art and painters as they went. I was at Art School and getting throwing out every year for doing what I wanted to do, so I knew I was doing something right ;)
I made a living as a designer, but always made art. Playing with graff and hitting the street, I was always mixing these three elements together. Looking back on it, it was a totally natural progression – I didn’t need to try and sell the art I was making, so I could make art that I wanted to, without thinking of anyone else.
You’ve spent quite some time in preparation for your upcoming show – over forty piece in all. Have you produced the majority of these works here, and how reflective is your work of the place in which you produce them? What of Melbourne, and Australia, has most found its way into the work for it?
I spent six long months in the studio making the pieces for Melbourne, its the longest I’ve been in the studio to date.
The works always contain an autobiographical concept, the mark making, tags and throws, are a pointer towards writers I meet and know, and the things I see on my travels. I like to have a continuing story, so the work is usually from the pervious places I’ve been – the Melbourne story will continue throughout my work and will end up in my show in LA in 2013 – it’s always moving.
Why do you believe that the female form has never truly been over played in art? Throughout history, the female form has overwhelmingly been portrayed in somewhat deference to the male form, and you yourself, though not limited to it, follow down this path by depicting a large majority of women – where do you think this compulsion by artists, and yourself, to investigate the fairer form comes from?
The female form is art, and I always like to convey the power of the female form and how the presence of a woman can influence. The reason for introducing the female form to the paintings is to allow the the graff, which is usually seen as masculine, aggressive and ugly, change context and become accepted and beautiful – I like playing with these ideas.
One of the many aspects that we love about your work is the juxtaposition between areas of brightly conveyed colours and monochromism – this allows elements of it to "pop" in and out of the viewers gaze – most of this is reflected between clothing and form within the work. How important is the play of colour in your pieces and what elements do you believe it conveys to the viewer?
As far as painting and colours I choose to paint with go, well, I want to achieve a complexity that allows the viewer to see new marks every time it’s viewed, and to get lost in the mark making.
Texture, multiple layers, hidden elements, gestures, actions imagery, collections of icons and visualised ephemera – many of these are the hallmarks of your works and all are things you have spoken of in the past; we’re more intrigued with areas that you find that you haven’t as yet touched, or are just beginning to evolve now, and places you wish to go – what do you believe are still some of the "untouched realms" with modern art, and your own?
I love painting and a lot of artists in this movement are definitely bringing something new to contemporary painting. Things are changing and it’s becoming more serious, which is a good thing as it’s real people connecting with other real people, who are making art that makes sense.
It’s relevant, and not completely lost.
Your gallery Onethirty3 is quite an intriguing space – you’ve talked about transitory states of art forms before, and from what we gather, the general philosophy behind the gallery is to investigate the transitory state between art on the street and the gallery walls – in what ways have you implemented this in the shows that you’ve put on there so far, and how has this experiment evolved since you began?
I’m actually closing it at the end of this year – it’s been good, but it was only ever going to last two years. It had to be kept fresh. Friends have come, smashed the warehouse, partied and left.
A lot of people had a good time and moved things forward. Eine is smashing it in September and Eelus will be in December, then that’s it.
It’s been a trip.
What do you have planned for after your Australian visit, and where to next? What other elements in your art or projects would you also like to explore in the future?
Melbourne has been well cool, the people are unreal, the local artists and writers are mad helpful, and the place is hit more than NYC – I went out with REKA and the EF crew and what I have seen so far is unreal – the place and people are so cultural.
I’ll be back in the UK a while, and travelling, but I wont be doing anything show-wise till May 2013 in Los Angeles.
Thanks for your time, and big up Melbourne!
All images via Metro Gallery and Hushs website – check out Hushs latest show, Sirens, at Melbournes Metro Gallery.