Cj Hendry explores a new approach to illustration in her recent exhibition Monochrome, which allows the art on the walls of a seven-room home to dictate the character of a space, rather than allowing the space to define the taste of decoration. Sharing a full collection of hand-drawn Pantone posters, these illustrations colour the house with personality.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream; such was the sentiment at Cj Hendry’s exhibition Monochrome, showing for only a weekend in Brooklyn, New York, from April 5 to 8. With great anticipation, the public filled the open industrial space in Greenpoint to experience the seven-colour themed house, inspired by her hand drawn Pantone posters, and to take fashionable photos on the sofa in the blue room’s hookah lounge or jump into the playpen pit of pink teddy bears – all of them, very Instagram-worthy.
The social media app is where I was first introduced to Hendry’s genius: pen and pencil drawings of material goods such as puddles of paint as well as crumpled shopping bags illustrate a craft for making nominal inanimate objects shockingly fascinating, as they look as real as a photograph. In a recent collaboration with Pantone, the Australian cult artist exhibits Monochrome, a slight shift from her traditional black and white drawings for a further exploration of colour through illustrations of crumpled Pantone colour swab posters.
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Hendry used her drawings of colour stories blue, red, green, yellow, pink, purple and orange to create tangible characterizations of each room in the house. She explains in a press release, “Colour is exciting and sad and frustrating and confusing. Colour is all around us, it’s everywhere. Colour is not a physical thing, it’s a thing that describes something else. By drawing crumpled coloured cards, I have given colour a physicality and form.” This form was uniquely and individually expressed through a frisky fun house.
Enter the blue room and find an L-shaped sofa, representing a living room set to converse with backyard lawn chairs gathered around a sandbox stationing a hookah, as shimmering streamers decorating the wall backdrop. The exhibition continued with a groovy dining room setting, introducing the red room, formally hosting a fuzzy long table set for a meal. In accompaniment, the green kitchen insights an artists’ diet: a refrigerator stocked with Foster’s ale and a pile of watermelon, pineapple, jalapeño peppers, cabbage and Granny Smith Apples dumped on the round dining table.
The next room, referred to as the yellow room, and also the bedroom, is decorated with a funky daisy love seat, a wardrobe rack, and a spray-painted sneaker collection. Next to it, we find the relaxing purple bathroom. This was the haven of the house, built with a circular hot tub and decorated with a calming lavender tulip on the countertop. In juxtaposition is the pink playroom, set with a pen of giant baby pink teddy bears and a vanity, stationed with a spray-painted chain quilted Chanel bag, next to an assortment of cosmetics including Marc Jacob’s Daisy fragrance. The final room was the orange study room. A colour representing creativity, determination, success and joy, this room was designed with a full bookcase, tapestry draping from the wall and a flurry of papers overwhelming the desk. There’s no better way to close an exhibition with such a colour.
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Sexually-driven details of the exhibition give a colourful character to the house – yellow condom wrappers scattered on the bedside table, and a collection of dildos erect off the wall in the pink playroom. The artist explains, “Monochrome is a progression from that series [of crumpled shopping bag illustrations] as it circulates around a crumpled theme. However, I am giving colour a physicality by crumpling coloured paper cards. When you think of colour, you think of a hue, you do not think of it as a physical tangible thing. In place of a wordy monologue of what the artwork is about, I have created space where instead of reading a blurb about the show and artwork you can physically walk through what I am trying to say. So, you physically get to experience the blurb on the wall.”
And just like the urgency of chasing an ice cream truck as a child, so was there pressure to experience her illustrations and the Monochrome home. Cj Hendry’s illustrations inspire fascination and wonder while laying a foundation for exploration – not just through the house, as the installation invites, but towards a new approach to illustration. The visit was an adult treat packaged with far more indulgence than a Popsicle stick.
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