Richard Hambleton: Mr Wonderful 2nd February 2023 – 28th February 2023 Woodbury House 29 Sackville Street Mayfair W1S 3DX
Artist Richard Hambleton, aka “The Shadowman“, was the mastermind behind the mysterious, dark and enigmatic street art he embellished across New York in the 1980s. Often referred to as the “Godfather of Street art” and some say the originator of the Graffiti silhouette figure, Hambleton was one of the pioneers of New York’s art scene alongside iconic artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and many others from this celebrated era.
“Mr Wonderful”, a new exhibition at London’s affluent Woodbury House, features large-scale, previously unseen works by Hambleton, including his ominous “Shadowmen,” “Horse and Rider” figures and the exhibition’s focal point, “Mr Wonderful”.
Hambleton was known for his graffiti art, yet he considered himself a conceptual artist who created both public and gallery pieces. His early public works “Image Mass Murder” series from 1976 to 1978, where he drew police chalk outlines around volunteer “victims” splashing red paint, symbolizing blood and the human spirit, making them truly unforgettable. He painted these “crime scenes” on the streets of 15 cities across the United States and Canada.
Hambleton’s “Shadowman” paintings are some of his most famous and well-regarded pieces. These sinister figures, which emerge from Hambleton’s explosive use of paint, lurked in the dark alleys and walkways of New York City, an eerie and exhilarating signifier of danger and excitement.
Hambleton travelled the U.S. and Canada before settling in New York in 1979. During the 1980s, tagging Lower Manhattan alleyways, ultimately transitioning from the street to the studio, producing works on canvas and paper. Despite participating in the Venice Biennale in the 1980s, Hambleton was neglected by the art world in the 90s and early 2000s due to his struggles with illness and addiction.
In 2010, Hambleton roses from the ashes with new works in a come-back exhibition Richard Hambleton New York ‘The godfather of street art’ curated by Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld and sponsored by Georgio Armani.
On April 21, 2017, Shadowman, directed by Oren Jacoby, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, chronicling his rise to fame in the New York art world as well as his battle with drug addiction. Hambleton died on October 29, 2017, of cancer at age 65. Today, Hambleton’s work can be found in private and institutional collections and performs significantly well at auction.
Richard Hambleton’s Mr Wonderful offers the chance to get up close and personal with Hambleton’s oeuvre and take in some historical street art.
Richard Hambleton’s Mr Wonderful is on until the 28th of February, 2023, at Woodbury House.
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