Artist Tim Hussey appreciates moments of intimacy that happen in unexpected places, "outside all the social bullshit." He says, "You really begin to see the beauty in people." In his latest collection, all day rain, Hussey sought to convey the melancholy and relaxed mood between artist and model in his charcoal figure drawings.
Hussey believes "the biggest danger of any artist is to imitate yourself." He recently took a year-long sabbatical from painting, followed by a month at an artist's residency in a Spanish vineyard owned by a group of Norwegian "black metal heads." Their musical tastes inspired a heavy-handed, abstract style. Hussey wanted to deliberately express himself in a simple medium and began drawing figures in "frenetic lines" of charcoal.
Hussey began figure drawing 20 years ago as a freshman at the Rhode Island School of Design. "I've always returned to figure drawing," he says of his journey. As a figure drawing instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York and Redux Contemporary Art Center, Hussey says artists can be overwhelmed with the novelty of art supplies and that "a true artist should be able to create something intriguing out of anything." Without a basic foundation and skill, a painting will "die on the vine."
Hussey included a few older pieces in all day rain to show a consistent effort throughout his career to work from life. Getting the anatomy right and making it believable was important to the collection. This is the first time Hussey, who has built a reputation as an illustrator, painter, and photographer, has exhibited his nudes, 90 percent of which were created in the last six months. The large-scale, unframed drawings also include several portraits, though Hussey says he is more interested in the loose movements, energy, and beauty of the body. He says, "The face is an entirely different landscape."
In "Alex 7," the last drawing Hussey completed for the show, there is a "scratchiness, the beginning of something." Alex is on her back with an arm thrown over her head as if she is shading her eyes from the glare of the sun. The drawing "depicts an obsessive effort to find the energy of the piece." The lines are thick and alive, vibrating off the paper. Initially frustrated with the position of the arm, Hussey found himself returning to the drawing until it became his favorite in the collection. The figure "lends itself to the joy of my frenetic line quality." Unlike working alone in a studio on a painting, drawing from life is a partnership. Hussey says, "When you're collaborating, you can't ignore the energy of the other person in the room."
Another figure reclines, her head thrown back in a posture of ecstasy, her neck exposed and vulnerable. The heavy black lines of walnut ink and hand-drawn charcoal create a tactile sensibility; you can feel the black dust on you fingers just by looking at it. The figures are both anatomically correct and ideal, breasts are full and perky, stomachs rounded but free from pockets of fat, and long legs reveal women who are comfortable in their own lovely skin. The drawings are named and numbered — Tara, Alex, and Elise — humanizing the collection of legs, arms, and breasts. These are real women whose essence bleeds off the paper in the lines, and we are like trackers, following the footprints of the artist's hands.
Hussey's lines are not contained; his goal is to "cancel out the seriousness of it all." Maybe he inherited this playful perspective from his mother, who came to the opening reception and spilled red wine on one of his drawings, leaving a stain of his Spanish vineyard roots.