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Back to Reviews 97


david ebony's new york top ten

gary hume
at matthew marks

April 26-June 28, 1997

Gary Hume

   In this show, London-based painter Gary Hume continues his exploration of slick surfaces, outlandish color schemes and distorted figures in works that seem possessed of a kind of reckless ambition to change prevailing notions of beauty. A number of the 12 recent large (most are about 7-by-5-feet) enamel-on-aluminum paintings in this show recall billboards or subway poster ads for clothing or perfume. Unlike the commercial ads, Hume's images initially are often repelling rather than inviting. Any image that is truly new and original can be hard to get used to.

The dramatic figure in Angel, for instance, wears a jaundiced halo. Unlike any celestial being I could imagine, the work conjures an image of a sickly rock star in concert. Peacock is a richly hued panel, but the barely discernible peacock feather is rendered in shades of dark brown and black that one would not associate with the brilliant bird. The landscape In the Park is also strangely disconcerting. This haunting work shows a white moon shining of over three phallic-shaped leaves. But the beige, red and green leaves appear far removed from nature; they have the unmistakable look of vinyl.

Some works, such as the abstract Sea Horse, are surprisingly lyrical. This painting features a soothing expanse of turquoise and blue splattered with white, traversed by a thin, straight horizontal yellow line. In contrast, there is nothing calming about the large figure paintings. Some of them recall Warhol's portraits, although Hume's images are far more caustic. The painting Francis, for instance, filled by a misshapen round face with sagging yellow eyes and thin brown lips, strikes me as an acerbic homage to Francis Bacon. Hume may owe nothing to Bacon, but their works are often similarly disturbing.