The Quick and the Dead is an exhibition of five ground-breaking artists each radically different in his or her approach whose lives have intersected at various points.
The artists are friends who have portrayed each other at different moments, and are being displayed together for the first time this autumn at Jerwood Gallery
In this new exhibition, The Quick and the Dead centres on paintings and drawings made over the past decade by Maggi Hambling, in which she has portrayed Horsley, Lucas, Simmons and Teller. These works are in dialogue with portraits of Hambling made by the other living artists.
This is highly personal, a sequence of artistic interactions, and a celebration of portraiture and its ongoing possibilities. The exhibition has its roots in a 2005 meeting at The Colony Room Club, Soho, where Hambling was introduced to Sarah Lucas by their mutual friend Sebastian Horsley. A friendship between Hambling and Lucas was formed, and in due course made portraits of each other, providing the creative catalyst for this exhibition.
Two paintings by Hambling show Lucas in distinct attitudes observed from life in a moment of introspection and imagined within an array of her sculptural materials (including tights, vegetables and concrete boots). An assemblage by Lucas portrays Hambling with a toilet bowl and a pair of light bulbs, suspended from the ceiling. The title of this work Magi - plays on the slippage between Maggi and Magi, introducing a note of ancient sanctity to the readymade nude and chiming with the Biblical origin of the shows title.
Sebastian Horsley, the writer, artist and self-styled Soho dandy is depicted in a full-size drawing from life and in a sequence of paintings made by Hambling following his death in 2010 a rogues gallery of heads in which he appears as variously ghostly and spry, lifeless and animated. Sarah Lucas also created a portrait of Horsley in 2000, with a video of his trip to the Philippines to be ritually crucified.
Hambling has portrayed artist Julian Simmons, Lucass partner, within a diptych: a portrait of Simmons surrounded by one of his digital compositions is juxtaposed with Hamblings painting of a tsunami whirlpool, which he studied during the sittings. This vision of the artist is mirrored in a drawing by Simmons, in which he conjures Hambling in the form of concentric graphite circles one of a series of orbicular drawings painstakingly built up in thousands of revolutions. An abstract symbol transmuting into a portrait: the universal becoming specific and singular.
In a new group of charcoal drawings, made earlier this year in her London studio, Hambling depicts the photographer Juergen Teller from multiple angles. Teller reciprocated with a series of photographs showing Hambling at work the first pictures ever taken of Hambling in the act of making. In one rapid drawing, Hambling captures Teller at the moment he photographed her. This drawing embodies the spirit of the exhibition an image of artistic exchange, of looking and being looked at.
The Quick and the Dead also features self-portraits by each of the artists, revealing how their visions of each other find parallels or precedents in their images of themselves. With portraiture at the heart of this exhibition, Hambling says A portrait is like a love affair - an intimate, challenging and complex thing.
Jerwood Gallery Director Liz Gilmore says Jerwood Gallery has a long history with Maggi Hambling and we are really pleased to be able to invite Maggi back to Hastings with this incredibly personal and unique exhibition. It is particularly exciting for us to also welcome for the first time to the gallery Sarah, Julian, Juergen and Sebastian. The uniqueness of The Quick and The Dead is that it has evolved though friendship and shared artistic endeavour.
It is particularly apt that this exhibition is at Jerwood Gallery, as Maggi Hambling is not only featured in the Jerwood Collection and shared the Jerwood Painting prize with Patrick Caulfield in 1995, but also laid the foundation stone for the construction of the seaside gallery back in 2011.