ABOUT THIS ARTIST: Hundreds of hours go into each compelling work by this remarkable artist, and many works have three lives, recreated at intervals of 7 years in which they underwent a sequence of changes. It's not unusual for his work to be dated 1977, 1981, 1987.
In Russia, Khudyakov was well known as a poet. He says, "I'm no longer a poet because I'm past the age". He quotes the ancients; he thinks that it was probably a Greek, who said that poetry writing is for the young, prose for the middle age and memoirs for the advanced in age. While he was still in Russia, he began to introduce visual elements into his poetry at about the time that he was beginning to use the words on a lesser scale. His poetry and art sprang from the same feelings and laid out on a page, a poem had both literary meaning and plastic appeal.
When he arrived in New York in 1974, Khudyakov had every intention of being an artist. Hovering between two worlds, he had the naive notion that to make a great deal of money, all he had to do was work hard. He was inspired by visual images that he saw in the streets, by campaign buttons, T-shirts, shopping bags and the ubiquitous sign "I Love New York". He began making similar objects for commercial use, but earned no money at it.
Nevertheless, he honed his skills. The street iconography he was so drawn to, like shards of civilization, along with every manner of collectible - studs, chewing gum, band-aids, bows, metallic glitter and more - have recurred in his many works, particularly in his clothing series. The subject matter can consist of tiles, dress shirts, vests, T-shirts, pants, shoes and jackets, such as the intriguing work he calls "The Glorious One". An interest in the supernatural inspired the title "Visionary-Non-Wearables" for a 1982 exhibit. Partially as a result of his cosmic outlook, no canvas can be too bright for him. Along with acrylics and glitter he uses petroleum based fluorescent paint, which glows in the dark.
His work cannot be summed up casually. Although a totally instinctive artist, he is very much in the tradition of the great Russian contemporary of Kazimir Malevich, Pavel Filonov. One of Filonov's principles was to painstakingly cover every square inch of his paintings thus creating a multilayered fluorescent surface. Indeed, not only the Khudyakov's composit works brilliant in coloration, but the complex surfaces are embossed and variegated to the state perfected by the early medivalists and known as the phenomenon of "horror vacuui", fear of an untreated space.
- Eleanor Flomenhaft 1990 Curator & Executive Director Fine Arts Museum Long Island, Hempstead NY
Further details on this artist can be viewed: Henry Khudyakov