Hume @ White Cube, Hoxton Square


The White Cube galleries on Hoxton Square and Mason’s Yard are hosting ‘The Indifferent Owl’, an exhibition showing new work by Gary Hume. I went down to the Hoxton Square gallery to take a look and was met by a display of natural and childish imagery in hues of pinks, greens and yellows.

What struck me most about the display was the use of block colour and lack of tonal variation. Colour was placed in-between pronounced ridge, three-dimensional outlines, reminding me of glass painting as a child, and also of painting by numbers. Each piece seemed to have one focal colour, whether it is black in The Playground or green in Migration. The basic colour scheme reflects the subject matter: three young girls in Six Poles which could easily be dolls are all purple with different coloured braids made up of bright primary colours of thick childlike brush strokes.

As well as these paintings, there is also a sculpture in the middle of the gallery space. Constructed out of stone is what looks like a wooden branch, or a tree. It follows on from the natural world featured in the paintings, of birds and shades of greens and blues. Inside the sculpture is an orange ball, possibly signifying life, maybe a kind of fruit or a seed. Upstairs are the seven colours of the rainbow in a fragmented form, which again leads me to think about possible influence from infancy.

The show is unique yet vague. I do not know quite what to make of it. I did not dislike it, but I’m not in love with it either. The use of basic colours and form are somewhat endearing but it is unclear what kind of message the artist is trying to convey. It is ambiguous, what exactly is the symbolism of the simple colour scheme or the natural imagery? How does it relate to the depiction of the playground and the girls? While this show won’t provide you with answers, these paintings, which first appear simple and a little juvenile, will make you think and should not be dismissed.

The Indifferent Owl will be on display at the White Cube Hoxton Square and Mason’s Yard galleries until February 25

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and also writes for After Nyne, Ibraaz and Reorient.

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