Hugo Wilson, Parafin, London

With his first London show for 10 years, young British artist Hugo Wilson presents a broad spectrum of painting, sculpture, drawing and photography to explore faith and power via various systems of belief. Specifically, Wilson’s new works examine the way that art has been used throughout history to reinforce the power of certain ideologies.

A series of paintings takes hunting scenes as their focal point: based upon old masters’ works such as those by Peter Paul Rubens, Wilson’s works depict strange scenes where animals such as lions and tigers have been trained to hunt other beasts. The images are dark, blurred, detail removed in the dramatic and fast-pace of the chase; the climax of the kill is captured in flashes of black and red.

Amongst the deep burgundy and ochre hues, the muscles of these great beasts can be picked out in detail – their power and physical strength forming the focus. The paintings bear resemblance to murky battle scenes and, as such, highlight the violence and inhumanity of these events.

Alongside these works are dreamlike charcoal drawings, sketched from Roman Mithraic friezes, however in the gentle strokes of grey and black, all legible detail has been lost. Meanwhile, photographs documenting areas of consecrated ground stand with these works – highlighting the importance of protecting historical legacies.

One floor below these works, the Labours of Hercules appear in 12 red terracotta sculptures – each combining various images of the Labours, their sources as diverse as ancient Greek and Roman representations to contemporary, mainstream cartoons. However, in each case the items and actions which would define the Labour itself has been removed, leaving behind a composition of strange ideological forms.

Hugo Wilson, until 21 March, Parafin, 18 Woodstock Street, London W1C 2AL. For more information visit

Follow us on Twitter @AestheticaMag for the latest news in contemporary art and culture.

1. Hugh Wilson, Sur La Table (detail), 2014. Courtesy of Parafin and the artist.