Lewis-John Henderson makes paintings that feel like a cross between Pop Art, and that episode of The Magic Schoolbus where they travel inside one of their fellow pupils’ bodies in order to see his red blood cells up close. His large-scale brightly coloured works, which veer from abstract line-based works to curvaceous blocks and recurring shapes, merge influences from contemporary art with something altogether new – and we couldn’t help by be swayed by them.
When it come to choosing a university, it was something of a process of elimination for Lewis. “I read a biography of the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi where he slags off the Slade, so I naively knew I didn’t want to go there,” he says. And I guess Camberwell is probably the other big painting school in the capital, and the tutors are really fantastic.”
It seems to have sat well with him, giving him space to develop his original aesthetic while also allowing him to travel and explore other environments. “I did a residency in Leipzig, Germany in September and October,” he says. “That was really helpful to my practice, and I met and worked with some really fantastic artists. It all culminated in a show of the work I’d made alongside Kenneth Stitt – a fantastic artist and friend who was also doing the PILOTENKÜCHE residency. I guess that was my best ‘project’ so far.”
The scale of his works can make travelling for exhibitions a bit tricky, however. “I did a show in Amsterdam in December. It wasn’t the worst but it sure as hell wasn’t the best – it was a real logistical nightmare getting work there and I kept having to compromise with the work for the show.” There’s a lesson to be learned from having to make such sacrifices though, he says. “I had a great time, but it wasn’t how I thought it would turn out…”
"I read a biography of the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi where he slags off the Slade, so I naively knew I didn’t want to go there. And I guess Camberwell is probably the other big painting school in the capital, and the tutors are really fantastic.”Lewis-John Henderson
If Lewis-John could show his portfolio to anybody, it would be art critic and broadcaster Matthew Collings. “He’s a funny guy, it’s always a pleasure to read anything he writes. Lots of critics tend to write quite dry boring reviews and talk about things like how much a work of art is worth, or they project the myth of the artist upon their work instead of actually talking about the show or the piece. [Matthew] made some quite interesting paintings in the 1990s and I’m sure he’s got some good anecdotes about having shows in the warehouse scene back then, so I’d like to know what he’s like in real life.”
As for the most important lesson he’s learned? “A good work ethic is the key,” he says. “I guess I get that from my father, he’s always been a worker.”
We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2015 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic and digital design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduate scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2015.