26 March - 16 May, 2024
MAGGI HAMBLING: THE NIGHT A Solo Exhibition by Maggi Hambling
601-605, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central
Hong Kong—Pearl Lam Galleries is delighted to announce Maggi Hambling: The Night, a solo exhibition by renowned British artist Maggi Hambling at its Hong Kong gallery from 26 March to 16 May, coinciding with this year’s edition of Art Basel Hong Kong. This marks the first solo exhibition by Hambling in Asia since the artist’s museum retrospectives in Beijing and Guangzhou in 2019. Pearl Lam Galleries will also showcase an important new Wall of Water painting by the artist at its Art Basel Hong Kong stand.
Hambling occupies a unique position as an artist who has consistently embraced a spirit of rebelliousness throughout her career, making her one of the most celebrated female artists in the British art scene. This spirit is evident in her tributes to seminal intellectual figures such as Mary Wollstonecraft, an important advocate for women’s rights in the 18th century, and memorial sculptures honouring figures like the 19th-century author Oscar Wilde and the 20th-century composer Benjamin Britten. Rooted in her own lived experiences, Hambling’s work remains a reflection of and draws inspiration from people, places, and her identity as a pioneering artist with a queer perspective. Viewing painting as an intimate and physical experience, Hambling believes that regardless of the time dedicated to a painting, it must culminate in a single moment—akin to the profound physicality of love.
The Night will include two new series of paintings that have never been seen before. This includes her 2023 series with works titled Sexy, Sexy Dream, and About to Kiss, which explores the seduction and intimacy to which the silent night and shifting clouds can bear witness. It also includes Hambling’s Night Sky and Night Clouds paintings from 2021 that present a universal subject connecting the East and West along with the North and South. Shimmering clouds appear; beautiful and fleeting, they are omens of peace and serenity above our turbulent world.
For Hambling, nighttime has been an enduring subject, having first painted the night sky from her bedroom window at age fourteen. Over six decades later, the artist returns to the night as her subject, which she considers to be a mysterious realm: silent, reflective, seductive, shifting, and intimate, both real and fabled where dreams and reality coexist. Hambling cites Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem The Night as being central to both these series of paintings:
You, darkness, of whom I am born— I love you more that the flame that limits the world to the circle it illuminates and excludes all the rest. But the dark embraces everything: shapes and shadows, creatures and me, people, nations—just as they are. It lets me imagine a great presence stirring beside me. I believe in the night.
Influenced by Chinese and Japanese paintings, the works featured throughout The Night showcase a technique reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy, a connection rooted in Hambling’s art student days when she would regularly study Chinese ink drawings on display at The British Museum. Drawing in ink at the start of each day has become a fundamental part of her daily creative ritual. These influences are perhaps most apparent in a new and large triptych titled Edge XXX and a new painting from the celebrated Wall of Water series, which has been ongoing since its debut at The National Gallery, London in 2014, to be showcased at Art Basel Hong Kong. The Wall of Water series explores the multifaceted nature of water, both its role as the sustenance of life and its ability to destroy, where one feels both powerless and yet peaceful, highlighting our inclination to seek identity in something more formidable.
A selection of new sculptures rendered in painted bronze expands on Hambling’s celebrated Aftermath series, exhibited to date in museum shows across the UK, Italy, and China. The new Aftermath sculptures resonate simultaneously with the solidity of scholar’s rocks and the lightness and shifting impermanence of clouds. A new solid silver sculpture titled Silver Sleeper will also be presented as part of a collaboration between Maggi Hambling and Beauty Papers, the groundbreaking creative duo (Maxine Leonard and Valerie Wickes) and celebrated publication, where art, culture and beauty collide. Silver Sleeper is Beauty Papers Artefact No.1: an autobiographic manifestation, a portrait of Hambling captured in a sculptural form that redefines the territories and rituals of beauty.
Maggi Hambling says, “I’m excited to return to Hong Kong and to be working with Pearl Lam. The subject of my exhibition, the Night, is one I have returned to throughout my career. Night inhabits a mysterious territory where beauty, fear, desire and dream combine and invite us in.”
Pearl Lam, Founder of Pearl Lam Galleries, says, “I’m delighted to present new and recent works by Maggi Hambling at our gallery in Hong Kong and in our group presentation at Art Basel Hong Kong. Her contributions to the British art scene are truly exceptional, and she is someone whom I believe has carved a path for a new generation of artists with a brutally honest and direct approach—consistently pushing boundaries and refusing to conform throughout her career. Her artworks continue to resonate with me on a deeply personal level.”