Gary Hume returns to Matthew Marks Gallery this fall with a show of new works, including paintings and sculptures, a selection of works pulling from scenes of destruction and violence in the Middle East and turning these images towards a strange, abstracted state.
In the same way that firing a gun in the air was once described by Andre Breton as the supreme “surrealist act,” Hume’s works seem to gravitate towards a more aesthetic bent, but nevertheless mines sites of deduction and violence for prime expressions of a ruptured reality, a break in the fabric of the world around us. The paintings were inspired by news photographs of schoolrooms destroyed in recent conflicts in the Middle East. The contrast between the naive rendering and innocent subject matter of the wall decorations and the brutal destruction surrounding them is at the heart of Hume’s new work. Their distressing poignancy compelled Hume to bring these found images out of the news cycle and into the realm of more lasting contemplation through painting, initiating a deeper, more empathetic experience of the ravages of war. In some works, large negative spaces gape out at the viewer, or depictions of various elements, torn and pulled away from their original milieu, make for a powerful expression on the force and power of violence.
In contrast to the paintings, the sculptures in the exhibition are painted a ghostly white. Hume’s familiar Wonky Wheels, the basis of these works, appear here both restrained and energized by elements suggestive of human interaction. Offering a sort of formal counterpoint, his pieces here seem nevertheless to recall the absence of a body, the animating factor that would give these wheels a purpose or set them in motion. For Hume, the alternations between familiar forms and a violent break with reality makes for a potent space to explore the world as it stands now.
— C. Rhinehardt
Gary Hume: Destroyed School Paintings [Exhibition Site]