Shadowman – Westbourne Grove

19 September - 14 October 2018

SHADOW FIGURES - Shadowman

Richard Hambleton “Shadowman”  is a solo exhibition of work by celebrated New York street artist Richard Hambleton.

It is the first major gallery exhibition dedicated to the seminal ‘godfather’ of street art, since his death in October 2017 and features a vast array of original pieces as well as limited edition prints.

Richard Hambleton is renowned for his black ‘shadowman’ silhouettes that graced dark corners, alleyways and walls across Lower Manhattan in the early 1980s. Hailed as the first artist to use the city as a canvas and the first street artist to attract the attention of the lucrative art market, achieving both commercial and critical success, Hambleton was one of the few artists at the forefront of the New York street art movement and often worked alongside contemporaries Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Richard Hambleton “Shadowman” features rare and previously unseen pieces from the Richard Hambleton Archive, early photographic works of Hambleton’s work by Hank O’Neal, previously unseen lightbox installations, plus a series of newly released prints.

Born in Vancouver in 1952, Richard Hambleton studied Fine Art at the Emily Carr school of Art in Vancouver and began practising as an artist in the late 1970s. At the start of the 1980s, Hambleton moved to New York where he soon became notorious for his ‘shadowman’ wall murals. At the height of his fame, critics revered Hambleton as a definitive American Pop-Expressionist artist. He exhibited at the Venice biennale in 1984 and was twice featured on the cover of LIFE magazine.

Preferring to stay away from the limelight, Hambleton turned his back on the commercial art world and alienated both art dealers and close friends. He disappeared from the scene whilst battling a severe heroin and drug addiction for 20 years. In the late 2000s, Hambleton was invited to create new work for a major retrospective supported by Giorgio Armani. The exhibition, which toured New York, Milan, Cannes, Moscow and London, was a huge success and reaffirmed his reputation as the original godfather of street art. Despite his addiction to drugs and a period of homelessness, Hambleton continued creating conceptual work until his death in 2017.

He is credited with starting the New York street art movement, paving the way for the commercial success of his contemporaries, and inspiring a new generation of artists including Blek le Rat, who first saw Hambleton’s work in Paris, and Banksy, who has anonymously made his mark on the walls of cities throughout his career.