There is no single process for HUSH. The U.K.-based artist mixes methods as he applies a combination of paint (acrylic and the spray can variety), screen print and ink techniques to his canvases. In the end, the results are exquisitely layered paintings that people sometimes confuse for collage work.
Saturday night, HUSH unveiled his latest show "Unseen" at Corey Helford Gallery. The effort involves 22 pieces, including large paintings and smaller studies. This was his first show with the Culver City gallery, which has come to prominence in the past few years for showcasing some of the brightest talents in the pop surrealism and street art world. HUSH himself falls into the latter camp, and he worked on a few street pieces while he in town.
HUSH's love of street art goes back to his youth. "I did a bit of graffiti," he says of his formative years. "I wasn't a big graffiti artist."
The ideas of the street art world have a profound influence on HUSH's gallery work. Look closely and you can find his tag scrawled over layers of paint. On the streets, HUSH notes, "people are going over each other's work, adding to the work." This is true of the environment that hosts the art as well. "You're adding something to the environment and the environment adds something to the piece." HUSH's paintings reflect these ideas. He'll have a canvas hanging in his studio for a year, maybe more, and will constantly add to it. "Every time I approach the canvas, I will tag them," he explains. Once he's accumulated enough tags, the paintings begin to take shape.
In "Unseen," HUSH's work is centered around a group of woman who appear with eyes blacked-out. He removes the eyes in order to keep the audience at a bit of a distance from the characters. "There's a personality there with the eyes, so you can connect too much," he says. The women represent a feminine beauty, counteracting the popular portrayal of street art as "masculine and aggressive."
HUSH has been using the same models for several years now. He photographs them repeatedly for points of reference. Sometimes, he will screen print small portions of their image. Most of what you'll see of the girls in the gallery is painted. His techniques always vary. Sometimes he will sketch out the form first. Sometimes, he uses stencils. Other times, he'll just start painting.