“Art is the first thing I can remember inspiring me,” says Sydney-based artist Henry Curchod. “Why do anything at all? You can fill your life with all kinds of seemingly meaningful or pointless things, and often it amounts to nothing. Art relates to the human experience, an opportunity to comment on all the beauty and absurdity of this world. It’s a way to emotionally connect with people that doesn’t involve screens and internet. And really, what else am I going to do?”
Henry was born and partly raised in the USA but finished school in Australia and studied a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of NSW. Before completing his course he became a finalist in The Sulman Prize, The Mosman Art Prize and the Adelaide Perry Prize. “It’s nice to be recognized for doing something you like, and what I’ve learnt is that no matter what you make, there will always be at least one person who likes it.” Henry is represented in Sydney at Butcher’s Hook Gallery, and will be exhibiting as part of a show at 12 Smith St, Collingwood from March 20.
Which five words best describe you? Five words? That’s crazy. Anxious, pensive, busy, cynic, hungry. I guess.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have always had a passion for drawing and painting. My childhood was filled with drawing. My uncle and grandmother are the most inspiring, brilliant artists. And my mother has always been big on painting; taking me to galleries at a young age. But when I was young, I was sure that I was going to be an architect. I have all these sketchbooks from when I was 12, of designs and sketches of houses. After travelling, I came back to Australia to do some work experience at an architect’s firm, and on the second day he sat me down and said that it wasn’t for me. I resented that but knew he was right. I never believed you could make a living being an artist. People always told me that I’d starve. And here I am, not starving.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I don't learn lessons very easily. I suppose at each different chapter there are lessons you learn, which define that particular chapter. At the moment I’m learning to choose very carefully whom to take advice from. Everybody loves to give unsolicited advice and lots of people lie to you. Some of it is gold and much of it is trash. But sometimes you really need to take advice, you know? It can help you to bypass some really tough lessons. So determining who to listen to is the biggest lesson I’m learning right now. Oh yeah, and don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!
What’s your proudest career achievement? Having my family see my painting hanging in the Art Gallery of NSW. It had always been a dream of mine.
What’s been your best decision? The decision to stop taking drugs.
Who inspires you? Various musicians and writers. Generally people who are mysterious or unpredictable. I wish so much to be unpredictable. Or people who live a completely different life than me inspire me. I always say to myself, “Wow! They’re on top of things, I wonder how they’re doing that”, and then I try to understand them. So then I get inspired and attempt to change parts of my life, but always fall back into the same patterns. Richard Diebenkorn, Euan Uglow, Peter Doig, Whiteley, Mark Adams and Louis Theroux.
What are you passionate about? Everything! I get obsessed with new things very easily. Like at the moment I’m trying to learn the piano. It’s a tough thing. Respect to all the pianists out there. I’m very passionate about snooker, fly-fishing and, of course, painting. Snooker takes up a great deal of my time.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? No idea. Who knows? I wouldn’t know what to say to them anyway. I’d be scared of not being interesting enough. Would I be going back to their era or would they be coming back from the dead into my era? It would be cool to introduce Beethoven to Spotify. Or show Caravaggio the digital camera and then mess up the image with Photoshop. It would blow him away. Perhaps it would depress him. I don’t know.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I want to live in the mountains for a while. Just kind of hide out. Fly-fishing, skiing, whiskey; a real mountain life for a while. Not for too long. The Caribbean, maybe? I have huge aspirations for my career. Not really sure what success is yet. People seem to really enjoy success. I’ve got plenty of time
What are you reading? I just finished The Curse of Lono by Hunter S Thompson. Very funny! He was a fascinating character. I appreciate how he took on the smallest, least lucrative jobs purely because he was bored and wanted to go to crazy places. In all of his books he seems very free. But he shot himself in the head so who knows. I am also reading this book about the universe. It helps keep me in check!
images courtesy of henry curchod