In the present work Pollock-esque drips and splashes create a palpable energy as a cacophony of line ignites from the dancing figure. An expressionistic investigation into the body, the artist’s practice is defined by the movement of anonymous figures; figures which espouse an ethereal presence. Delineated with lashings of white paint, Shadowman displays an inverted reading of the series in which a white figure appears to be running through a water. For Hambleton, these figures “could represent watchmen or danger or the shadows of a human body after a nuclear holocaust or even my own shadow” (Ibid). There is certainly an ingrained darkness deep within the series; a darkness that alludes to the physical and psychological struggles battled by the artist throughout his life.
Emerging as part of the 80s New York downtown scene alongside fellow street artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Hambleton exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1984 and 1985, and at the Venice Biennale in 1984 and 1988, where he painted ‘Shadowmen’ across Venice. A subsequent tour of Europe brought his figures to the streets of Paris, Rome, and London. He also travelled to Berlin to paint seventeen life-size ‘Shadowmen’ on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall, returning a year later to paint more on the western side. Shadowman stands as a symbol of a moment in time, an instantly recognizable figure that will forever permeate our psyche.
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