Cj Hendry: Epilogue 12 – 22 May 2022 The New Testament Church of God 43 Morgan St London E3 5AA
In May 2022, Cj Hendry will present Epilogue, comprising her ninth solo exhibition and immersive experience, and her first show in London. This poignant and reflective exhibition introduces a new body of 32 monochromatic works in Hendry’s signature photorealistic style using the coveted Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 pencils. The unique flower works will be showcased in the site of the New Testament Church of God, a dilapidated East London church.
It’s natural at this time in the world that this series be concerned with the provocation of time, death and decay. We treasure flowers for their fleeting beauty.
Countless artists have depicted flowers in full bloom, but few have portrayed them as they begin to wither and shed their petals. To me this is where the beauty lies, and Epilogue is a memorial to them and a reminder that nothing lasts forever.
This elegantly melancholic series mirrors a collective mood of reflection and reevaluation, seeing Hendry return to a pared down palate of black and white. Questioning the ephemeral nature of beauty, time, and mortality all so prevalent today, Epilogue will also bring to life large scale immersive experiences – seeing ten tonnes of recyclable confetti made up of millions of paper flower cut outs continuously fall from the ceiling of the cavernous church across the 11-day duration of the show. The confetti will be allowed to settle, gradually blanketing the floors over the course of the exhibition, underlining a greater sense of time, transience and rebirth, forever altering the landscape of the exhibition.
Epilogue comprises 32 unique drawings depicting flora chosen from Hendry’s vast collection of references from around the world. The artist carefully arranges and photographs each specimen, and meticulously reproduces the images in the coveted Luminance 6901 pencils by Caran d’Ache on cotton paper.
The unrivalled pigmentation and colour-fastness of Caran d’Ache’s products have kept their materials as the favourites of world-famous artists for generations, past and future. The creation of each drawing requires intense discipline and concentration, with a small-scale piece taking up to 80 hours. Far from being an ordeal, however, Hendry views drawing as a meditative process which provides a momentary respite from the outside world.
The new series of work draws on depictions of nature throughout art history, from 17th century Dutch Still Life paintings to the Pop Art of Andy Warhol and Marc Quinn. While the botanic motif has traditionally symbolised life and vitality, Hendry opts for a darker interpretation. Beneath the beauty and formality of her drawings, Hendry depicts flowers that without their source of nutrients are inevitably left to decay. The artist portrays them precisely at a moment when they are about to dry and wither, capturing the final vestiges of their temporary existence.
For Hendry, the exhibition space and its associated concept are crucial to the narrative of her practice. Eschewing the pristine, white-wall gallery space, the artist frequently creates temporary large-scale installations. Taking place within a church, this interactive installation also touches on the religious notion of rebirth.
The New Testament Church of God (former Holy Trinity) is constructed of London stock brick with stone dressings and was built between 1836 and 1839. Prior to Hendry coming across the space, the church had fallen into disuse and disrepair in the 1960s.
A devote fan of Caran d’Ache, CJ Hendry joins an honoured list of artists who have brought their creations to life with the Swiss drawing tools. With a history spanning over 100 years, Caran d’Ache has stood the test of time with the iconic Luminance 6901 pencils renowned for their unparalleled vibrancy and velvet texture developed over two years of research in the magical Geneva workshop.
To prepare for the exhibition, the studio has renovated the church and repaired its damaged ceiling. This regeneration process will breathe new life into the church and reinstate its role as a hub for local communal life. The end of Hendry’s Epilogue will thus mark the beginning of a new chapter in the church’s own story.