Art and commerce seamlessly merge in the work of New York-based Australian artist CJ Hendry; indeed her latest work was created in collaboration with legendary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin.
The fittingly titled Complimentary Colors debuts March 21st at the Anita Chan Lai-ling Gallery at the Fringe Club in Hong Kong, Hendry’s first time showing in Asia. The artist’s fascination with material and pop culture has previously translated into her signature large scale, photorealistic black-and-white drawings of consumer goods. But this time around she’s turned her focus to an unmitigated celebration of color.
Specifically highlighting the color red as an homage to the iconic Louboutin soles, Hendry’s meticulously rendered, mesmerizing wax pencil drawings of thick oil paint dazzle in their vividness.
“I find drawing very intimate, as opposed to other mediums,” Hendry explains. “Drawing allows you to get very close to your craft; and I can reach that new level of detail in each piece. Pencils are very different from my usual medium: ink.” The artist by her own admission has OCD, so messy oil paints were actually never really a reasonable option.
This isn’t the first time she’s been inspired by Louboutin’s designs. Her series The Trophy Room in 2016 (her debut New York show) featured a So Kate heel dipped in bronze, before becoming the focus of one of her ink sketches; it was that work that caught the attention of Louboutin. Noting the obvious synergy between the two, he gushes, “There is something I love in her work that is very playful; and you can feel the artisanship.”
Since 2013 Louboutin has chosen the week of Art Basel Hong Kong to showcase emerging artistic talent. Hendry enthuses, “[Louboutin] is a force whose work I’ve admired for many years. For me, the brand represents what it is to be a strong female – they started with and maintain such a strong product: a high heel. I also love how colorful and playful they are, something I find really engaging. And I appreciate that they are willing to support a young artist like myself.”
Thoughtfully, she stops to reflect and shed light on her apparent obsession with brands: “I don’t think it was intentional to start. It was something that came from a very true place of where I was at the time. I’m interested to see where this new direction will take me.” And so are we.