Yellow Angels is a major new work in which the artist has abandoned his silhouette format for a looser, more calligraphic style. Delineated and entangled hot-pink forms slide across the acid yellow surface of the composition. Reminiscent of his earlier work, Hume’s color scheme is slick and garish. Here, as always, the artist’s creative process begins with sketches of images taken from books and magazines that he then projects and traces onto canvas or aluminum. This painting is particularly significant in the context of Hume’s recent work: the first in a new series of large-format paintings, it has generated an entire suite of figurative works (many of which include the angel motif) featured in a solo exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in 1999.
Gary Hume extends the tenets of high Modernist painting by creating flat, decorative compositions with imagery drawn from everyday life. While the subjects of his paintings are recognizable and sometimes ordinary, they are presented schematically, in silhouette form and without detail. They are always enigmatic, entirely lacking narrative or sentiment.
Hume emerged with a generation of young British artists, many of whom studied at Goldsmith’s College and were featured in Damien Hirst’s legendary Freeze exhibition in the late 1980s. This three-part exhibition was held in an abandoned warehouse in South London, but gained immediate international attention and catapulted the careers of several artists, Hume prominent among them. His contribution to the exhibition was a series of monochromatic canvases painted with high gloss enamel, resembling the swinging doors found in municipal buildings and hospitals. The artist continued to develop the door motif paintings until 1993, when he abruptly changed his painting style. Throughout the 1990s, the artist painted compositions of multi-layered images drawn from British popular culture, everyday life, and nature.