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gary hume
gary hume interview
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Back to basics at London’s White Cube.

When the YBAs exploded over a decade ago Gary Hume was an artist you suspected wouldn’t last too long. His paintings, filled with flat panels of bright colour and intersecting lines, felt as 90s as Changing Rooms and Oasis. His current one-man show, however, proves that not only will Hume endure but that he’s arguably the most innovative and important artist in his generation.

Milk Full and Mother Mortality (both detail).

Hume’s Cave Paintings at London’s White Cube are epic stone and marble “paintings”, with the lines of his signature abstracted figures made from lead. The results are mesmerising. Giant panels of coloured stone that weigh a ton form images of mothers and babies, drawn from trashy parenting magazines as much as Renaissance Madonnas. The images are sad, complex, revelatory and joyous.

The material itself creates a huge sense of emotional resonance in the work. Hume describes stone as a liquid that’s moving very, very slowly – and he does bring a sense of fluidity to the panels of granite and lustrous marble. It’s not exaggerating to say these pieces are as vital as the sculptures of Henry Moore or as beautiful as Michelangelo. It’s as if Hume’s entire opus of paintings and drawings that preceded were just practice sketches working up to the big thing.

The Adoration of the Magi and The Twins (both detail).

The series of charcoal drawings in the gallery upstairs are equally boundary breaking. Canvases are covered in deep layers of black, layered with chalk faces or images of flowers and peppered with small patches of vibrant opaque paint. As much as the stone pieces are epic and overwhelming, these smaller drawings are intimate and exude freedom.

It’s so refreshing to see an artist who’s getting older developing, rather than sadly watching their ideas and talent become stale.

Francesca Gavin 08 June 06
Gary Hume - Cave Paintings is at the White Cube, London, until 01 July 06.
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