The artist Hense needs little introduction in Atlanta. If you've lived here for almost any period of time, you've probably seen some of the work from his prolific career, whether it is his commissioned murals along the Beltline or in Castleberry Hill or the massive street art that put his name out into the world years ago. That high profile may be one of the reasons he was named in a recent, $1 million lawsuit aimed at street artists and businesses. In recent years, though, his increasingly abstract paintings have been appearing in galleries more often than the outdoors.
In his latest body of work, Mark Making in Black and White, Hense is working with pure abstraction and a constrained palette. Not unlike Jose Parla, these paintings seem to be drawing from the chaotic texture and lines of layered graffiti and recontextualizing them on canvas. We caught up with him to ask a few questions about the work before the show opens at Sandler Hudson on Friday.
When did you start working on this current body of work?
I've been working on these pieces for the past year. I'm using silkscreen and acrylic to create black and white images on canvas and wood. I'll also be showing some small black and white drawings on paper. I basically take transparencies and create marks on them with aerosol and acrylic. I then burn the screen and layer prints on top of prints with ink and acrylic.
Did you feel limited working in this black and white palette?
I don't feel limited in the color palette but I'm ready to dive into full color at this point! Woking in black and white has always been interesting to me. You can't really achieve bold contrasts with other colors. These pieces I'm working on are a study in silkscreening and mark making. I think I started with black and white to get a feel for the screen printed image.
How has your relationship to painting changed over the years?
For me painting has always been physical. Working on large scale murals with rollers and brushes has taught me how to really interact with the work. When I work on my paintings, I become physically involved. I work quickly especially with fast drying inks, house paints and acrylics. My work expresses the physical act of painting and creating art.
You were recently named in a lawsuit aimed at a large number of graffiti artists and businesses in Atlanta. Will this have any affect on your work in galleries?
Mark Making in Black and White, featuring work by Hense, Dixie Purvis, and Brett Smith, opens at Sandler Hudson Gallery on Fri., April 8 at 7 pm. More details at Sandler Hudson.
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