Artist Evan Hudson is making a scene with plasticine
From surreal and uncanny to whimsical and pleasant, the Toronto-based artist talks us through his unique work and tells us why reality TV currently serves as his biggest inspiration.
- Olivia Hingley
- 3 May 2022
For many, plasticine probably conjures very specific childhood memories. Making half-arsed blobby characters, the rubbery, plastic smell that would linger on your fingers, and that piece somehow stuck in your hair that your mum would spend hours trying to get out. You most likely won’t associate it with intricately detailed pieces of artwork tackling themes ranging from body image to contemporary culture and pastoral beauty. Enter Evan Hudson. Originally using the material because he wanted to make “super thick oil paintings” but couldn't afford it, the move was originally inspired by cost efficiency. But, quickly “falling in love” with all the quirks and intricacies of plasticine, the artist’s whole practice now revolves around the malleable material.
The surreal nature of Evan Hudson’s work is inspired by probably one of the 21st century’s most uncanny cultural creations: reality TV. Riffing off the “absurd” concepts that are being produced, Evan attests to being in awe of how “people are willing to humiliate themselves on such a large scale and everyone acts like it’s normal”. “It’s beautiful”, he continues, “I want my work to reflect that sort of thing.” And, in some of his particularly farcical works, featuring rippling abs and disquieting depictions of manically grinning faces, you are led to ponder the oversaturation of distorted images such programmes relay.
With his works so prominently revolving around themes of humour, satire and irony, it’s probably no surprise to hear that Evan has always been fuelled by the desire to be funny. Currently based in Toronto, growing up he spent much of his time “trying to make friends laugh”. With his antics often taking place in the classroom, Evan could often be found “drawing portraits of my teachers with dicks for noses or an ass for lips” at which his “friends would go insane”, he fondly reminisces.
But, not only focussing on slightly uncomfortable, disquieting work, Evan is keen to impress that he has no desire to restrict himself to certain themes. “Some days I want to make something nice and whimsical, and sometimes I don’t,” he says frankly, “limiting myself to a certain set of emotions would feel dishonest and boring”. These more whimsical days result in some of Evan’s more nature-centric works: a field of yellow flowers, a house in the distance, a campfire at nighttime softly illuminating the greenery. These pleasing pieces – specifically the ones including grass and rainbows – are also ones that Evan sees as most advancing his work. “They take a lot of planning,” he explains, “the more I make the more methodical the practice gets. It almost feels backwards to take a motif like a rainbow and break it down into numbers and simple math, but that’s what makes it fun”.
Alongside his more pastoral scenes, Evan testifies to the menial, “less exciting” parts of his practice to be the most satisfying. Citing his love for mixing, weighing colours and prepping surfaces, Evan explains these tasks to feel almost meditative. “It’s usually in the midst of that that you get those ‘eureka’ moments that you look for too”, he adds. Having some of his work at CAN art fair in July, and planning for his first solo exhibition at Moosey’s London gallery, Evan has a busy year ahead. But, aside from this, his only real plan, we’re pleased to report, is to continue producing his brilliant plasticine paintings.
Evan Hudson: Juggler in a Hole (Copyright © Evan Hudson, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.