CJ Hendry is an artist who creates over-sized pen & ink drawings of aspirational objects. Her hyper-real works have been creating a stir for a couple of years now - not least due to the way she has used her Instagram social media account (check it out here) which was how she was picked up by design blog The Cool Hunter who now represents her.
Her latest exhibition 50 Foods in 50 Days is running right now in Melbourne at a pop-up gallery in Fitzroy and closes this weekend. As the title suggests, Hendry completed one work per day for fifty days, all documented via her Instagram account. The exhibition explores the emotional connection we have with food and is obviously striking a chord as all works were sold prior to the exhibition.
The inspiration for the exhibition was the death-row question of what we would like our last meal to be and Hendry decided that she would like her meal to be served on a luxury plate (Hermes no less) combining her predilection for high end designer goods with 50 different options ranging from M&M's, french fries to seafood.
In contrast to the daily output of the 50 Foods in 50 Days show, some of Hendry's earlier work is of a much larger scale, requiring significant preparation. She takes multiple photographs of each item before using a ruler and grid system to scale the drawing with some of them taking up to three weeks to complete in her painstakingly detailed pen-work.
After dropping out of an architecture degree (Hendry wasn't a fan of the usual CAD systems preferring to use her drawing skills instead) she found herself working in a high-end designer store.
After giving herself a year to make a go of her 'art' (Hendry refers to it as her 'scribbling') she sold her designer clothes on Ebay, bought some black Uni-Pin pens, and started with a pair of the iconic worn leather RM Williams boots.
Using Instagram as a tool to reach out, the finished RM Williams boots were noticed and sold to a Sydney Art Collector after his daughter spotted the image on her Instagram account.
Hendry is unapologetically matter-of-fact about her work believing that her talent is no more or less than anyone else's - "it’s just a matter of having found the subject matter I like to draw."
The core of her work, has been centred around the luxury aspirational items that celebrity pop-culture is associated with “product interests me. I’ve always been a buyer" adding that she has been interested in how these brands are built.
CJ Hendry is one of the first in the Australian Art world to really harness the power of Instagram and has gone from unknown to having a hugely successful career within two years, without the patronage of the traditional (Art Gallery) route supporting her.
Hendry's work is typified by it's stunning photographic qualities (it's hard to believe at first glance that they are actually drawings at all) with it's amazing level of light play and detail.
With savvy determination, and the same sort of celebrity endorsement loved by the luxury brands she depicts, she is shaking up the industry and we can't wait to see what she does next!
(And yes, the piece below was snapped up by Kanye....)