Gary Hume

Damien Hirst brainstormed Freeze,that landmark show of July 1988 that launched the great London art boom. There, in an empty office building along London’s docks, a gaggle of sixteen young, rebellious Brits arrived hell-bent on ratcheting up the shock meter with attacks on society’s nihilistic detachment toward violence.  All except one.

Gary Hume eschewed the confrontational sensationalism that marked the exhibition – mostly because it didn’t suit the way his brain fired and stormed.  He opted for an approach that respected, rather than annihilated tradition. That said, the minimalist, postmodern novelty of his life-sized hospital doors at Freezebelie the richness of his quirky, free-wheeling associations.

Ultimately, paintings such as “The Wedding” are not about how he arrived at a solution, but everything to do with the visual pleasure one derives from viewing it.  He calls his paintings the ‘joyous product of imagination’.  The means are another matter.  For twenty years he’s used the same glossy Dulux enamel house-paint. The surface glistens, forms are flattened, their weight determined by color and relationships.

If there is discord here, it’s that color is not at all intrinsic to the article drawn within its boundaries. A moss green wedding garment? Not a chance. The flowery red dashes and lines scribed to bare metal add an edge and more electricity and charge than usual.  It recalls the artist’s comment about what constitutes an interesting painting. “A painting has to be tough, it should have muscle, but I have to find some tenderness in it too.” “The Wedding” is of this sort.