RICHARD HAMBLETON

Shanghai

  • medium Acrylic on canvas
  • edition 1
  • size 54.00w x 91.00h in
  • created 1982
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Notes

COA: This work comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from West Chelsea Contemporary.
Exhibition History: Austin, West Chelsea Contemporary, Concrete to Canvas, November-December 2020
New York, Alexander Milliken Gallery, Richard Hambleton, September-October 1982.
Literature: C. Nadleman, “Richard Hambleton, Alexander Milliken,” ARTnews, 1982.
Art Essay: Renowned as the “Godfather of Street Art,” Richard Hambleton rose to critical acclaim in the 1980s with his legendary Shadowman series of black and white silhouettes painted on building facades throughout New York City. Shanghai, an exceptional example of his prolific series of expressive, leering figures on canvas, references his figures which were splattered against the walls worldwide – from the Lower East Side, to Paris, to Rome, to Shanghai – as part of his “shadow” project where he gained international acclaim and notoriety for his splashy murals. Each work in the Shadowman painting series is titled after a major international city of the world. With Shanghai, Hambleton moves from painting directly on the city streets to engaging with cities cleverly and conceptually from afar.
Progressing artistically, Hambleton explored the “Shadowman” figure in different media, rendering the notorious figures on paper, canvas, doors and found objects, in a variety of dynamic actions, such as dancing, jumping and standing. Each iconic work is a completely original expression of the artist. Shanghai is an outstandingly unique painting, as the figure is rendered in an inverted white shadow, rather than a black silhouette. This format presents a striking contrast of a frenetic figure jumping with raised arms, knees splayed, and head exploding spraying paint upwards. The life size shadow is galvanized into motion with intensity by Hambleton’s quick throws of runny white paint in lines and drips. Created specifically for the important solo exhibition at Alexander Milliken Gallery in 1982, the canvas was stretched soon after it was made, rather than rolled up and shuffled from studio to studio, as was often the case for the nomadic artist. Founding New York’s underground graffiti scene in the 1980s, of which Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf were fixtures, the Canadian artist used the city as his canvas, creating expressive life-size looming figures around Manhattan’s downtown public spaces, strategically placing ominous figures in unexpected alleyways and side streets.