The Strain brings together work by Jack and Hugo, with Martha organising the event from May 6-13 at contemporary basement gallery Studio Sienko, 57A Lant Street, Southwark.
Jack and Hugo describe the show as an analysis of contemporary urban living, an honest look at London-life through the eyes of two country boys, both bemused and excited by our crowded capital. Jack, aged 26, now lives in Peckham, and 23-year-old Hugo lives in Hampstead. But it was in Chichester they first met.
As Jack explains: “We used to be friends with each other in Chichester when we were about 13 years old, and then we went our separate ways for a while. And then I moved to London in September. I knew Hugo was an artist. I had seen some of his stuff on Facebook. We went out for a beer, and it just went on from there. I really liked his work, and we agreed on a lot of principles about art. We ended up sharing a studio, and now we have got the exhibition. We hadn’t seen each other for four or five years, maybe longer. When we met up the second time, we discovered we had a lot more in common than we thought.
“I do figurative work, usually elongated and distorted. I usually break up the figure, usually making it almost unrecognisable. I always use the figure as my basis and then put in lots of work. I like to take things that are familiar – the human body is very familiar – and then make it a little weirder and so get people to look at it in a different way. I like to deconstruct things and then put them back together again. I have always been into drawing people. Hugo’s style is very different. Our styles are very, very far apart, but the thing we have linking us is the figure. We are both into the horrors of how we can behave as humans and also into the beauty of humans en masse. The show is called The Strain. When you are in London, you see how people behave slightly differently when they are en masse. They behave a little bit more animalistically. Even when they are socialising, the body language of people will change. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is a definite change. I don’t mean the change is necessarily aggressive, but it’s just human beings together, doing things in the same way – and I feel quite segregated from that. I don’t see it as a positive thing. I just feel the isolation. It’s like when you are watching everyone around you at a concert, and you are thinking ‘What are all these people doing?’ And you feel apart from it. Hugo is much more into the individual. My work concentrates on people as a whole. If I have one figure, it will represent humankind. But Hugo’s work will focus on one person he finds intriguing, and he does that person four or five times, becoming obsessed with them. He works them until he almost overworks them.”