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Hendry’s colorfully immersive projects have become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, ripe for Instagram and inspiring a must-see-in-person trek. This time around, the artist created hyper-realistic psychological ink-blot paintings, complemented by a 3,000 square-foot white bounce house resembling the “padded walls” of an insane asylum.
“This series is an amalgamation of Rorschach images and squish paintings, a psychological mashup of naive and sinister. There is little difference between an infant and an insane adult: both have undeveloped thoughts and blissful ignorance, both live in a playful space where they have not made sense of the world. There is so much freedom in ‘seeing what you want to see.’ Ultimately we are all walking Rorschach tests, we see what we want to see...” said the artist in a statement.
Whitewall visited Hendry in her studio last summer to learn more about her practice.
WHITEWALL: Tell us about your studio. What kind of space works best for you to be able to create?
CJ HENDRY: I have a 5,000sq ft studio in Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York. It;s a warehouse space so there are no walls, its big and very open with lots of light. I had six enormous 5 foot-long maple tables custom made for the space on coasters so I change the configuration as I need. Space is one of the most important things to me especially since I spend so much time here.
WW: What's a typical day in your studio like? Do you keep regular hours, do you listen to anything while you work? Who is normally there?
CJH: I normally arrive at the studio around 7:30AM and I try to leave at 10PM each night. Whilst I work, I always have my Bose noise cancelling headphones, either listening to podcasts or audiobooks or watching some Netflix series on my iPad. Honestly, I should pick up a side gig as a Netflix critic, I have watched so many series. My studio consists of seven people, eight if you include my dog Ace.
WW: Do you draw every day that you're there?
CJH: Yes, I draw every day. However, my time is now split up with multiple projects, such as planning exhibitions and experimental projects outside my larger bodies of work.
WW: How much time do you spend on the non art-making stuff (emails, calls, admin, etc.)?
CJH: I have a studio director that handles this, which is great because I'm not so good at it anyway. This allows me to spend my day drawing and working on my other ideas with the rest of the team. In the beginning, I handled these tasks but as my practice has grown it made sense to hire someone.
WW: You first started working in color with a collaboration for Louboutin in Hong Kong. How has your practice transformed since you started using color?
CJH: Come to think of it, the decision to move into color was a huge step. For five years I exclusively drew in black ink and never allowed myself to venture outside this box. I woke up one day and just said fuck it I’m going to try color, who cares if I can't do it I just want to try.
It has allowed me to venture into super experimental areas which I may not have ever gone down before. However I still hold my black and white drawings close to my heart.
WW: Your show last spring “MONOCRHOME” was really successful and well attended. What was the response like for you? How has that influenced what you're working on next?
CJH: I mean, it was so unexpected, once you put something out into the wild you can’t control how it is received. I couldn't care less about attendance and don't give a fuck about making art for people. I focus on what I want to make and the rest is up to the viewer. I have been really interested in taking my work out of the 2D and into a more physical 3D form. The next exhibition and projects are going to be so much more than my drawings as I continue to explore more experiential art forms.
WW: Are there any works you like to keep in the studio that aren't for sale - just for you?
CJH: Yes, I try to keep a piece from each series. I have my large black snakeskin boxing gloves in the studio which is about to be joined by a giant pink Pantone piece. These pieces are just for me and will never become available to anyone.