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Gary Hume at Tate Britain

June 6, 2013 by Kay

Tate Britain

Until 1 September 2013

Gary Hume is a leading figure among the young artists who studied at London’s Goldsmiths College in the late 1980s. From 5 June this year, Tate Britain will present an exhibition highlighting Hume’s innovative use of colour, line and surface over the last twenty years. Featuring both iconic and less familiar paintings and sculpture, the show will also include new work and international loans that have not been seen in the UK before.

The exhibition will run parallel to a survey of celebrated painter Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005), offering visitors the chance to see alongside each other two complementary British painters from different generations.

Hume first received critical acclaim in the early 1990s with his large-scale paintings based on hospital doors boldly rendered in high gloss paint. These were first exhibited in the 1988 Freeze exhibition organised by Hume’s fellow student Damien Hirst, which introduced the internationally celebrated group of ‘Young British Artists’.

Gary Hume, The Moon, 2009, Private collection, © Gary Hume


This early focus evolved over subsequent decades to encompass a range of subjects: figures such as mothers and babies, friends and celebrities, as well as images drawn from nature or childhood including flowers, birds and snowmen. Through this varied set of motifs, Hume explores the full spectrum of emotional response from wonder and joy to melancholy and loss. Conventional ideas of beauty are frequently countered by a darker, more questioning sense of the world.

The exhibition will bring together around twenty-five striking works in which recognisable forms are sometimes fragmented to near abstraction. The original source image may be left far behind as shapes emerge in the paintings through vibrant areas of colour, whilst lines are articulated as thin ridges of paint that disrupt the surface and the eye. Highlights include iconic early works such as Tony Blackburn 1993, and Blackbird 1998 as well as major recent paintings such as Red Barn Door 2008, recently acquired by Tate with assistance from the Art Fund, and new work made especially for the exhibition.

This exhibition is curated by Katharine Stout, Curator Contemporary Art at Tate Britain.

Gary Hume, Angela Merkel from the series Anxiety and the Horse, 2011, Private collection, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery