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Gary Hume: The Indifferent Owl

18 January – 25 February 2012

White Cube is pleased to announce 'The Indifferent Owl', an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by Gary Hume. Over the past twenty years, Hume has developed a distinctive visual language of bold, simplified forms to create paintings that engage the viewer with their pleasantly irresolvable quality. The exhibition, his first in London for over four years, brings together a large and varied body of new work that will occupy both the Hoxton Square and Mason's Yard galleries.

A painting by Gary Hume is a dynamically ambiguous visual experience. Although each work usually features a recognisable motif - such as a bird or flower - they are often flattened and fractured, and positioned awkwardly in a pictorial space that is brought to life through broad passages of colour that could be repellently acrid or seductively luscious. Negative and positive spaces fluctuate within a painting, stretching figuration to the point that lines, forms and colours start to lose their denotative function. 'Neither literal nor illusionistic,' writes Jennifer Higgie in her catalogue essay, Hume's paintings 'draw you into the depths of something you might have initially assumed was all surface.'

In the ground-floor gallery at Mason's Yard, 'The Indifferent Owl', a tondo painted in a disquieting mix of browns, purples and blues, will overlook a group of paintings of flowers and plants that suggest innocence and newness, their mood a stark contrast to the owl's world-weary, unappeasable gaze. The 'Paradise Paintings' will occupy the lower-level gallery. Painted in vast sections of creamy greens and flesh tones, this group of large-scale works depict the heads of birds, each with a beak and an eye of deep, visceral red. While the 'Paradise Paintings' are recognisably pictures of birds, the forms also suggest fragmented figures. Two smaller paintings, in starkly different colours, suggest the mother birds, each seeming to survey the gallery with a mix of pride and nervousness.

Hume will also exhibit, for the first time, a group of new sculptures carved from Ancaster hard white limestone. The sculptures are vertical forms reminiscent of both plant buds or baby birds, while their warm, tactile surfaces are, in some cases, punctuated by two brightly coloured dots that suggest eyes.

A catalogue, with an essay by Jennifer Higgie, co-editor of Frieze, will be published to accompany the exhibition.

Gary Hume was born in Kent in 1962 and lives and works in London and upstate New York, USA. Solo exhibitions include São Paulo Biennale (1996), Venice Biennale (1999) Whitechapel Gallery, London (1999), the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (1999), Fundação La Caixa, Barcelona (2000), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2003), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004), Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2004) and Modern Art Oxford (2008). Forthcoming exhibitions will include a solo presentation at Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, 4 February - 1 April 2012 and 'Flashback', (an exhibition organised by the Arts Council Collection) Leeds Art Gallery, 5 February - 15 April 2012 which tours to Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Jerwood Gallery, Hastings.

Showing at Hoxton Square | Mason's Yard
White Cube: Mason's Yard
25-26 Mason's Yard,
London SW1Y 6BU

White Cube: Hoxton Square
48 Hoxton Square,
London N1 6PB