To Hugo Wilson, animals are mirrors of human consciousness. We project our desires, hopes, and impulses onto the animal, and the animal reflects, refracts, and hurls them back to us. Unlike the Old Masters he references in his paintings and bronzes, however—George Stubbs, Peter Paul Rubens, Nicolas Poussin—Wilson’s menagerie is not beneath the human on the food chain or emblematic of the love of Christ. These creatures are Gods themselves, emerging from turbulent clouds of divine ether, meme warfare, and YouTube clips with agendas all their own, radiating their sentience in neon geometric yantras.
The work is a rorschach of origin legends. His stampeding Bulls, 2018, pull their muscular forms from the cosmic aspic that encases them, leaping from their pedestal into tangible reality. Septagon, 2018, is a seven-walled gehenna for an impossible avian community that explodes out of its confinement, expanding the canvas to the Great Beyond. In our eagerness to apply our own personal narratives to Wilson’s beasts and the baroque noise from which they emerge, one begins to question herself, her own genesis and binary belief systems: Is this the birth or demise of the universe? Why can’t Jesus be an ostrich? Is that really what a zebra’s teeth look like? Wilson’s work doesn’t answer. Wilson’s work is.
Hugo Wilson (b. 1982) lives and works in London. His artworks have been exhibited in group shows at the MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts in Debrecen, Busan Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and are also included in key international collections, such as that of the New York Public Library, the Deutsche Bank Collection in the United Kingdom, and the Janet de Botton Collection in London.