Although known as the ‘quiet man of the YBA generation’, English artist Gary Hume is anything but reserved. Rather his glossy, reductive aesthetic and treatment of everyday objects carry a certain artistic and contemplative gravitas that firmly cements a place among the high energy style of the Young British Artists (YBAs). As a contemporary painter and printmaker, and a principal member of the group that emerged in the late 1980s in London, Hume, along with fellow YBAs (Damien Hirst, Mat Collishaw and Sarah Lucas), graduated from Goldsmiths College, London, in 1988.
Hume rose in prominence over the early 1990s, beginning with his ‘door paintings’, works based on hospital doors, created with household gloss on MDF and aluminium. Described by Hume as a 'paradoxical object', being both empty and full, the blank stillness of the doors hints at a feeling of depth and possibility, a kind of conceptualism that was a central aspect of the YBAs.
Yet Hume’s works stand aside from the sensationalism of his peers. His measured, simplified approach to form, colour and particularly surface began with these works and developed, dealing with seemingly conventional subject matter such as flora, fauna, and portraiture, being often only represented by a few colours and forms, where the edge is the ‘only thing that matters.’
On initial viewing, his work shows a clear interest in Pop Art, particularly when concerning the idea of the surface and overstatement, but Hume’s works also show ‘a reticence of style and nuance of colour not usually associated with the movement’. Indeed, as an observer of life as it passes by him, Hume records what he sees in an introverted, almost pensive manner, - akin to the work of Patrick Caulfield - a far cry from his YBA peers.
Hume has enjoyed much success over his career, having works purchased by famed collector Charles Saatchi early on, as well as being nominated for the Turner Prize in 1996 and later winning the Jerwood Painting Prize in 1997. Hume also represented the United Kingdom at the Venice Biennale in 1999; and has exhibited at Whitechapel Gallery, (1999); Modern Art Oxford (2008); and recently at the Tate Britain (2013).
Gary Hume lives and works in London, U.K. as well as in Accord, New York.
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