Art Hole is Gay Times’ monthly roundup of the queer art you need to see around the UK. For March 2017, Maggi Hambling on war and the future of the LGBT+ community, David Hockney’s oeuvre as ‘homoerotic autobiography’ and Saatchi Gallery’s exhibition exploring the selfie through time.
Curated by Gemma Rolls-Bentley
Artist in Focus: Maggi Hambling
Marlborough Fine Art, 2 March – 13 April 2017
At 70, Maggi Hambling is many things; queer icon, Rainbow list national treasure, Harper’s Bazaar woman of the year 2016 and one of Britain’s foremost figurative artists. Fresh from her British Museum retrospective earlier this year, Hambling’s 8th solo show at her London gallery Marlborough Fine Art opens on 2 March. Titled “Edge”, the new paintings and sculptures presented at Marlborough mark a return to her familiar themes of war (and the desensitising impact of gruesome rolling news images of human suffering), as well as a response to global catastrophe and cataclysm, from Aleppo to global warming to the refugee crisis.
Taking anger as her usual starting point, Hambling relies on painting to convey her response to what she sees in the world, transferring her own feelings onto canvas. She views herself as a channel of communication conducting the truth through her work and notes that when artists respond to what is happening around them the work they produce often seems to anticipate real-world developments. In 2015 she produced “Politician”, a sculpture of a hollow tree rendered in a sickly yellow and pink palette that bears an uncanny resemblance to the pussy-grabbing PUSA, made at a time when Trump was still just a punchline at liberal dinner parties.
Hambling admits that she is worried about the recent developments in global politics and what the future holds for the LGBT+ community. A long-time supporter of Stonewall, she continues to donate a work of art every year to raise funds for the important work that the charity conducts in the UK. Having frequented London’s gay bars and drag venues since the 60s, where she became known for painting portraits of the stars of the scene, she is appalled by the eradication of the city’s queer spaces and the undocumented histories they signify. The artist plans to join the campaign to save the Royal Vauxhall Tavern from developers and she describes the venue as London’s last remaining citadel of gaiety, sitting all alone at the side of the road.
Featured Exhibition: David Hockney
Tate Britain, until 29 May 2017
Celebrating the artist’s 80th birthday later this year, Tate Britain’s David Hockney retrospective opened to all-round acclaim in February. Described by Tate as a ‘homoerotic autobiography’, the exhibition includes examples of the artist’s early paintings from the 1960s right through to his iPad drawings of recent years. The work in the show oscillates between rural landscapes of his home county Yorkshire and scenes of Californian life; comprised of portraits of his art and fashion world friends and the LA swimming pools that he is best known for.
Organised in collaboration with Paris’s Centre Pompidou and New York’s The Metropolitan Museum, where it will tour afterwards, the exhibition includes works loaned by some of the UK’s finest public collections, including Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; National Museum Wales; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; and Salts Mill, Bradford.
If you love David Hockney, you should also check out:
Salts Mill, Bradford
All year round Salts Mill in Hockney’s birth town of Bradford has three floors of displays dedicated to the artist, including the 2011 Arrival of Spring, comprised of 49 iPad works printed at a large scale.
British Museum, London
24 March – 14 May 2017
Coinciding with the artist’s London retrospective and to mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act, the British Museum is showcasing a series of Hockney etchings inspired by the poems of CP Cavafy about love and desire between men.
31 March – 30th May 2017
Saatchi Gallery and Huawei are giving you the opportunity to participate in the upcoming exhibition From Selfie to Self-Expression. The show will explore the history of the selfie from the old masters to the present day, including portraits by Frida Kahlo and Rembrandt, photography by Cindy Sherman and Juno Calypso, to the modern celebrity selfies of Kim Kardashian, Barack Obama and the Pope. Enter the #SaatchiSelfie competition online for the chance to have your most creative selfie showcased at the Saatchi Gallery as part of the exhibition.