Bird in a Fish Tank
July 2–August 21, 2010
For Gary Hume’s first solo exhibition in Berlin for over 15 years, he presents a selection of new work including Big Bird (2010), a major large-scale six-panel painting, a group of six paintings, four sculptures and, for the first time, five works on paper.
The six paintings form a series of large-format works painted with Hume’s trademark seductive bright colours, given extra luminosity through the use of gloss paint on aluminum. The images are stripped to their essential shapes imbuing any details with increased significance. This allows the works such as The Bridge (2009) to be read both as representation as well as abstract interlinking shapes. The source images are taken from cheerleader magazines, with the unusual viewpoints and angles capturing the movement of the bodies, and closely-cropped images providing a visual challenge to the eye. The contrast of the pastel colours and flesh tones with the cropped images of dissected bodies conveys a sense of dislocation and the disquiet at the heart of representations of American beauty.
These new paintings relate to the earlier American Tan series, which was described as follows in a press release: ‘Hume finds ambivalence in this most iconic of American art forms: simultaneous desire and repulsion, overt sexuality colliding with playful innocence, power and pride wrapped up in exuberant kitsch’. The new drawings are less closely cropped than the paintings and present instantly recognizable images of women in strong poses. Works like Untitled (2009) present a body and face in strong outline on a neutral background that contrasts and highlights the fiery red colour of the figure’s hair.
The beautifully shaped and tactile sculptures are conceived from mannequin parts, the human body in ideal universal form. Hume fuses the powerful limbs into static shapes latent with movement, and the vulnerability that their prone position conveys. Hume makes a model of the sculpture, the marble is then carved by hand and laboriously finished with sandpaper. One or more surface is covered in bright gloss paint, creating a strong contrast between materials.