Inspired by the mummies of the Atacama desert (Chile) and by the remains of animals and trees in Australia’s arid outback, the works of Nicholas Hutcheson map a passage of time. Outsized and striking, the pieces construct interior landscapes from vestiges of skin, bone and bark – simultaneously familiar and surprising. Hutcheson’s accomplished mark-making and deft use of colour produces arresting and unsettling works of complexity and originality.
Observed when travelling in South America, the Chinchorro mummies are remarkable for their shapes, colours and plasticity. Dismembered, re-assembled (with the addition of reeds, clay, sticks and llama fur) and re-upholstered, the bodies of the departed were coated with black manganese or brilliant red ochre.
The colours of the Atacama are echoed in Hutcheson’s works dealing with interior Australia, where bauxite and ochre are the ceremonial adornment of the living rather than the dead. Preserved in aridity, the desiccated forms of kangaroos, lizards and trees come to resemble the geography and geology of the land itself: layers of strata contoured by the millennia.
Hutcheson gives us trees shedding bark alongside the disinterred remains of a 7000 year old man – and reveals the beauty beneath the surface of skin. The human form is filled with shapes and contour lines, intersections and boundaries, becoming a fleshy container for an imagined anatomical landscape. These works are drawn from his ongoing exploration of the firmament of the body, where motion and repose, abstraction and the fundamentals of the skeleton, muscle and flesh are unmistakable.
Born in Buckinghamshire, England, Hutcheson studied Illustration at Bristol University and since graduating has exhibited widely throughout the UK and Australia. After extensive travels through South America, Hutcheson washed up on the shores of Australia in 2003 and is still here, currently making Melbourne his home.
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