Bearded singer-songwriter Keaton Henson might be painfully shy (so shy in fact that his publicist tells me he refuses all interview requests), but he is not afraid to lay himself bare through artwork and in song.
The 24-year-old polymath is upfront (to those who can pin him down) about the “crippling panic attacks” which have the potential to mar his entry into the spotlight. But he has nevertheless amassed a significant following as a musician and artist, particularly online.
The video for his new single “Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us” has been watched more than 230,000 views in less than two months. The Londoner’s haunting Jeff Buckley-esque vocal style (heavy on the synths), straggly appearance and lyrical frankness have won him many a champion including Zane Lowe and Radiohead’s agency ATC which distributed his debut album Dear….last year.
Although he is creating a buzz in music circles Henson started out as a visual artist – something he has combined with his singing (for example painting Dear… in this video).
His first major solo exhibition opens in London tomorrow. Hithermost runs until 2 February at the Pertwee Anderson & Gold gallery in Soho, showcasing, the press release promises, “the artist’s morbid fascination with the weird, wild and wounded”.
The reclusive artist’s work is a rare window into his quirky view of the world. Reacting to his own “cotton wool” upbringing, Henson’s drawings evoke fairy-tales and child-like imagination – but are always intrinsically dark.
At once illustrative and impressionistic the works distort the familiar; his subjects, often tortured and confused, are tinged by the anxiety Henson struggles with on a daily basis.
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