(New York, NY) Chase Contemporary is pleased to announce a retrospective exhibition for Canadian artist Richard Hambleton featuring works created between 1976 and 2017. Richard Hambleton: Beyond the Shadowman will showcase Hambleton’s contribution to the history of contemporary public and conceptual art. Through a presentation of the artist’s shadow paintings, seascapes, and a series of never-before-seen photographs taken by the artist between 1976 and 1979, the exhibition will provide a unique insight into the artist’s creative, conceptual life.
Opening in the gallery’s 10,000 square foot SoHo flagship, the exhibition will show the artist’s work in its origins, as many of the public shadow figures of the early 1980s were painted in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and SoHo. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, May 5, from 6-8 p.m. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with essays by art critic and historian Carlo McCormick and collector Ken Moss. The press walkthrough will be held on Thursday, May 5, from 2-5 p.m.
Richard Hambleton executed his public art project Image Mass Murder between April 1976 and October 1979 throughout Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, Banff, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Chicago, and New York, totalling 620 murder scenes. Operating under the pseudonym Mr. Ree during this period, he alluded to the series as a cultural analysis of the murder-mystery genre in popular culture. In Hambleton’s words, it was a “masterpiece of 20th century realism.”
Hambleton began painting his shadow figures- the Nightlife series- across the Lower East Side in the early 1980s, for which he received extraordinary recognition. The mystery of the man working at night and the feral black figures popping up around the city echoed the mystique of Hambleton’s Mr.Ree character and his murder scenes. During this period, Hambleton exhibited at many international galleries, including Club 57, New York; Alexander Milliken Gallery, New York; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Greenville County Museum of Art, South Carolina; American Graffiti Gallery, Amsterdam; Civilian Warfare, New York; Salvatore Ala, New York, and Piezo Electric, New York. His work was featured in the Venice Biennale in 1984 and again in 1988.
During the peak of his fame, Hambleton pivoted away from the shadow figures for a time to focus on modern landscape painting. The landscapes were painted in the style of 19th century Romanticism with moody horizon lines and ferocious waves. Romanticism emphasized imagination and emotion, two elements which are also critical in the Image Mass Murder, Nightlife, and Marlboro Man series. Hambleton created giant foaming waves, borrowing from Barnett Newman's signature "zip" mark, the vertical band used to define the spatial structure of his work.
The exhibition traces four bodies of work – Image Mass Murder, Nightlife, Marlboro Man, and Seascapes – across five decades and will present an analysis of the artist as one of the greatest conceptual, Romantic painters of the late 20th century.
About the Artist
Richard Hambleton (b. Vancouver, Canada 1952) was one of the most influential figures of the downtown New York art scene. After receiving his Bachelors of Fine Arts in painting and art history from the Emily Carr School of Art in 1974, Hambleton launched his Image Mass Murder series. In 1979, he moved permanently to the Lower East Side of New York. It was here that Hambleton gained notoriety for his “Shadowman” paintings of the early 1980s. Over the course of the next decade, his ominous silhouettes painted in unsuspecting corners, alleys, and side streets had appeared in over six hundred locations in major cities including New York City, London, Paris, as well as both sides of the Berlin Wall. From 2009-2011, a major retrospective was mounted in collaboration with Giorgio Armani, touring multiple venues that included the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Phillips de Pury in New York. Hambleton’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, the Queen’s Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. Shadowman, a film about Hambleton by director Oren Jacoby, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, 2017.