Denise’s dream-world of earthy colours
Posted by Osman on August 7, 2007
Denise Hudon, who lives and works in Bangladesh, had an exhibition of her works at Art Club Bangladesh recently. One was acquainted with her work by her exhibition at Alliance Francaise last year. She grows her own dyes in her kitchen garden and uses material like the veins of banana leaves for her canvas. Her colours are muted — madder, brown and beige. In them she puts block prints and paints swirls of paisley and alpona. She combines the art of the west with what she has learned from Africa, and now she mixes it with Subcontinental designs and motifs found in calligraphy and sari anchal designs. Her hues are so muted that they appear dream-like. In her work is a subtle combination of the east and west. She calls her exhibition “Reviving traditional arts into contemporary form”.Born in the heart of French Canada, with some native Red Indian blood in her veins, she uses flora as her subject. She painted murals during her formal education in fine arts. Later she entered ceramic sculpting. After that, for 15 years, she taught painting and ceramics. Even when she was in Canada in the eighties she used dried fibres of bamboo stalks discovered in the Chinese district and waste material recovered from store-room of shops in St Hubert Street. Earlier she had used recycled rag paper and cement bags. Learning from African artists in Togo, Ghana and Mali, she took to using vegetable fibres, like banana leaves, cabbage and leeks, in a big way. We see her close relationship with nature in her earthy tones. She uses dyes that she has collected from all over the world and from her garden. There is something both singular and universal in her work.
Her Gulshan has used bamboo, cotton and paper for the base. The dyes include n’pekou and galama. In the composition we see an embossed blossom in greyish white, set on a background of chocolate coloured squares. This is again placed on a burnt sienna rectangle. Autumn is done on paper made from cotton and bamboo. Safflower has been used for the dying and it brings large, delicate brown leaves that appear as if dusted over with powdered sugar. At the sides are rectangles dotted with motifs made from the fine central veins of tiny leaves.
Twilight zone is made from frangipani, cassia and fistula dyes. On a black base is a paisley pattern with flowers and leaves. The other motif is a matching piece in rich brown, and it appears somewhat abstract. Manuscript has delicate floral patterns backed with neat geometrical motifs. A chapter has papers of corn leaves and cotton for the base, while the dyes in it include black, indigo and marigold. We see an open book mounted on a pale beige backdrop. In the book itself we see intriguing characters. Motifs in indigo decorate the pages and a ribbon appears to run down the centre of the book.
Denise has exhibited in numerous places like Africa, Canada, Cambodia, Indonesia and Pakistan. She has taught in Canada and abroad.