The Smallest Gallery in Soho presents ‘Descended – an unsettling end’

Michael Henley seeks to communicate the transience of organic matter, animals and bone in a state of constant metamorphosis. The heavily worked graphite pieces are layered and coupled with an internal light source with the aim to create translucent pillars or trees (in this case) that seem to be etched with the images and stories.

There are six ‘pillars’ of various diameters and slightly tilted, positioned to occupy the whole space. All surrounding room surfaces are painted in matt black, absorbing light and creating an illusion of a space with no boundaries. The perceived depth is further aided by slight variations in the intensity of pillars’ internal illumination, and by subtly highlighting selected drawing details. Carefully orchestrated layers of light have been employed to reveal the mastery of drawing pieces whilst uniting them into a coherent three dimensional whole.

The choice of a monochrome colour scheme helps to create a further feeling of seeing something that has, over time, aged to become the raw parts of the intended image and what we are presented with is the ‘bones’ or very raw parts of the whole. Overall, some may view these works in terms of morbidity or life and death and while this is a present theme in a lot of Henley’s works, the same could be said in favour of the celebration of life and nature.

Best seen at night!

February – April 2022 at 62 Dean Street, London W1D 4QF.