Sumptuous curves define Richard Hudson’s oeuvre, from familiar bodily shapes to abstract contortions. Leila Heller Gallery is hosting his first solo show in Dubai until November 7th, with versions of his signature heart and teardrop works present. Everything radiates from a two-metre LOVE ME (2016) in mirrored steel.
His latest foray, however, is into an unpredictable abstract realm: “New pieces in the show are TWICE, TWISTED and MAYBE. It’s about making the shape and then whatever it is, you know when it’s finished. For me the line is really important. What always fascinates me, especially in the abstract, is coming up with a new shape – how does one arrive at that?” He’s a clear admirer of Constantin Brâncuși and Barbara Hepworth. “Working in the three dimensions, I just want people to draw their own conclusions. We see so much in just a blink of an eye. All those shapes and forms that we take in, every split second of the day. I suppose I’m solidifying some of that,” he says. The maturing and subsequent metamorphosis of bronze is dear to Hudson. “I put it (LOVE ME 2014) in a tub full of acid, sand, soil, for about six months, took it out and put a power hose on it. Look at those beautiful bronzes from the Greeks, they look fabulous.”
Hudson’s personal odyssey has been sinuous, with past incarnations as a farmer, a rock musician and London property developer: “To change is to live, to change twice is to really live. For five years, I sailed across the Atlantic, lived in the Amazon. Sailing and walking in Africa, travelling in Asia, Australia, just waiting for something to happen. I met a painter in Mallorca, who suggested I try drawing. I rented a studio there and started making quite conceptual work.”
But he soon ditched the readymades and began sculpting with his hands, culminating in a bronze commission from a local sculpture park owner. “When he saw some of my clay pieces, He said ‘I love it! Let’s make it in two metres.’ I’d never made a bronze in my life before. So I went to Madrid to visit the foundry. I walked in with my little maquette and could see works by Manolo Valdés, it just opened my eyes. I worked in the foundry, then got involved with marble, wood and polished steel.” His works now shine in sculpture parks all over the world, from Chatsworth in the UK to California’s Napa Valley.