Gary Hume: The Indifferent Owl

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2 out of 5 stars
Gary Hume Paradise Painting One 2010 a4.jpg
© the artist, courtesy White Cube, photo Stephen White 'Paradise Painting One', 2010, by Gary Hume

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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Using his signature method of applying household gloss paint to aluminium sheets, Gary Hume's recent series, 'Paradise Paintings', is wrought in a particularly sickly array of colours. Seen on the ground floor of White Cube's Mason's Yard, three of the five paintings match planes of prosthetic pink with a clinical light green and a dark, ruddy red. At first sight depicting cartoonish birds, pale with scarlet beaks, it becomes clear that their bright bills also look like cunts. Accordingly, their fleshy surrounds become legs, splayed, and their ruby eyes, drops of blood. Akin to the Rubin vase illusion, or the generic trompe l'oeil sketch of a young lady and/or old hag, Hume's paintings are at once benign outlines of fowl and candied silhouettes of a menstruating woman.

The banality of this punning gesture dumbfounding, Hume's continuance of it with a new group of limestone sculptures, variously named 'Bud' or 'Baby Bird' (vertical, organic-looking, and ultimately anatomical), is a disappointment.

Elsewhere, his Hoxton Square presentation presents more variance, and his preoccupation with the idea of disinterest is more palatable. A series of paintings of fragments of the rainbow occupy the upper gallery – lacquered chunks of bright paint, separated from their arc and individually hung. At once abstract and illustrative, these neglected expanses of pure colour speak for themselves, and here, Hume allows us a closer scrutiny of his interests. Drenched by the breadth and scale of this exhaustive exhibition, however, this insight doesn't go far, and the alienation felt in front of the rest of these works is simply not interesting enough to sustain questioning.

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