Gary Hume

Represented Britain in the 1998 Venice Biennale and describes himself as the “beauty terrorist”

Gary Hume during Cape Farewell’s 2005 expedition. Photo credit: Cape Farewell.

Artist Gary Hume joined Cape Farewell’s first Art/Science expedition in 2003, on a voyage from Tromsø to Spitsbergen via Bear Island. His work Hermaphrodite Polar Bear toured internationally with Cape Farewell’s Art & Climate Change exhibition and was featured in our Burning Ice book. He also exhibited work in eARTh: Art of a changing world at the Royal Academy.

Gary Hume was born in Kent in 1962 and lives and works in London and upstate New York, USA. He is renowned for paintings distinguished by a bright palette, reduced imagery and flat areas of seductive colour. While Hume’s paintings have always emphasised their luscious surfaces and simplified forms, many are infused with a melancholic beauty.

Gary first received critical acclaim with a body of work known as the Door paintings. These minimal and abstract works, with their high gloss paint and insistent reflective surfaces, developed in the early 1990s into a broader set of motifs, such as the nude, the portrait, the garden, as well as a pictorial idiom drawn from childhood, with images of polar bears, snowmen, rabbits, owls and close-up faces.

His subject matter broadened yet more through the mid 1990s to incorporate images from popular culture, making portraits of celebrity figures such as Tony Blackburn, Kate Moss and Patsy Kensit.

For the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1999), he produced the Water Paintings, large-scale works of multiple, overlapping line drawings of nudes punctuated by flat areas of colour.

Cave Paintings, the title of Gary’s most recent show at White Cube, featured seven marble tableaux composed of a variety of different stones set against each other in collaged sections that appear like tectonic plates. These are held together by a lead tracery that provides the edge to the expanses of colour, traced by the natural faults and veins inherent in the stone itself. These monolithic compositions are hand-carved and richly decadent, combining visual motifs from the natural world with imagery suggestive of human birth and fundamental emotions.

Solo shows include São Paulo Bienal (1996), Venice Biennale (1999) Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1999), the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (1999), Fundação La Caixa, Barcelona (2000), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2003), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004) and the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2004). Group shows include Tate Britain, London (2004), Louisiana Museum, Denmark (2004), Kunsthalle Basel (2002) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2001).

Art & Climate Change exhibition
eARTh: Art of a changing world
Burning Ice book
2003 Art/Science expedition

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