This Artist’s ‘Kitsch and Colorful’ Rainbow House Is Taking Brooklyn by Storm
Catch this color-drenched art installation while it lasts.
Who needs art school or a gallery when you can build a house like this?
Australian artist Cj Hendry may not have gallery representation, but that’s not keeping her latest work from setting Greenpoint, Brooklyn abuzz. Monochrome (2018) is a massive, 10,000-square-foot, highly stylized “home” built inside a commercial warehouse space in the cool-kid neighborhood (her own spacious 5,000-square-foot studio is right around the corner). But it’s the artist’s “interior design” of the space that’s garnering her attention: Inside the enclosed space, the artist has created several interconnected and color-saturated, monochromatic rooms.
There’s a blue lounge, a green kitchen, a yellow bedroom, a purple bathroom, and another bedroom in pink. Every single object—floors, walls, pillows, toys, clothing, and even the toilet paper in the purple bathroom—are of the theme color.
Each room features Hendry’s detailed drawings of wrinkled Pantone labels, related to the dominant color theme in the room. The white frames and backgrounds are the only visual let-up in the color-drenched cubes. Hendry explains that she was inspired by some of the unconventional art collectors she has met who insist on designing homes and rooms around their art, as opposed to the art being “the last thing they think about to put on the wall.”
Hendry, who says drawing is her strength, hasn’t always worked with such a bold palette. “When I drew in black ink, all the focus was on the object because all the emotion of color was removed.” The artist says that color adds a different dimension to her work. “By drawing crumpled colored cards, I give color a physicality and a form.”
She also hopes viewers are willing to just take it all in without the existence of intense explanation or dialogue: “Even if you did not know anything about me as an artist, you could still walk through the show and enjoy it. I am really trying for kitsch and colorful at this stage.”
For such an ambitious undertaking, Hendry’s background may come as a surprise: the 30-year old, who arrived in New York from Brisbane, Australia, just three years ago, did not attend art school. She studied accounting and finance at university and attempted to attend architecture school, but she found it wasn’t the right fit, so she continued her pursuit of drawing. Despite not having a gallery, Hendry does have a studio manager, a former student from the same grade school she attended in Australia who helps with sales and operations.
The lack of representation hasn’t seemed to hurt the artist. She releases a series of her drawings about once or twice a year, and says she likes to funnel the money back into projects like Monochrome. Last year, she collaborated with high-end shoe designer Christian Louboutin in Hong Kong—timed to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong—boosting her visibility on the global scene. “Complimentary Colors” featured Hendry’s hyperreal drawings and vividly colored large dabs of paint. “We had these crayon Christian Louboutin Stilettos made and everyone could draw on the walls,” Hendry says. “It was wild!”
Hendry’s whimsical and creative touch seems to extend to all corners of her practice. Guests at Tuesday night’s media preview were treated to equally colorful, custom-made cocktails served in clear bottles that ranged from “Lavender Lemonade” to “Jalapeno Mojito.”
Yet the hard-working artist does not seem to take herself too seriously and she is definitely enjoying the experience: “It is such a visual show. You cannot help but feel a certain way walking in. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. I am not looking for global acceptance. I am just doing what feels right.”
As for gallery representation, for the moment, Hendry is content to focus on her craft. She told artnet News that while she appreciates the gallery model and “there are a handful of galleries I would really like to work with… I think I have some growing to do as an artist before I am ready for such a commitment.”
Monochrome opens to the public today (Thursday, April 5) and is on view from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. each day until Sunday, April 8 at 276 Greenpoint Avenue. You can see a walkthrough video here.
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