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CNB Gallery opens a solo exhibition of new works by the Belgian/German artist Philipp Rudolf Humm
D.M. My Muse, 2016, 61 x 92 cm, oil on canvas © Philipp Rudolf Humm, courtesy of CNB Gallery.

LONDON.- CNB Gallery presents Urban Portraits, a solo exhibition of new works by the Belgian/German artist, Philipp Rudolf Humm.

The exhibition features three series of artworks: ‘Being and Time’, ‘Plastic’, and ‘Moments’, which showcase Humm’s narrative figurative paintings, described by Edward Lucie-Smith as “Pop Expressionism.”

In ‘Being and Time’, Humm adopts iconic publicity images and art historical references to artists such as Manet, Preti, Goya and (Jacques -Louis) David, and then displaces and re-introduces these compositional schemas into contemporary environments and situations. Executed in oil, an historically-coded medium, Humm employs a palette that serves his subject matter, blending vivid, pop-like colour with rich, Italianate lustre.

‘Plastic’ is a particularly autobiographical collection which engages with the long tradition of artists taking inspiration for their work from their own experiences, turning personal subjectivity outwards to address universal themes. Painted in gouache, the works are reflections on the surreal social situations in which Humm found himself when he moved to London after a moment of personal crisis a few years ago. Like Gauguin’s escape from life as a stockbroker in Paris to paradisiacal freedom in Tahiti, Humm’s move to the city both initiated his artistic career but also involved a period of profound self-reflection. The works are a contemplation of that eclectic, materialistic, and superficial world Humm encountered in which tragi-comic aged male figures and mannequin women act out parables of twenty-first century excess.

‘Moments’ is Humm’s ongoing series of portraits of both intimate friends and celebrity models. In these works, Humm focuses on the two most expressive parts of the human body – the face and hands. These features are accentuated by isolating them against backgrounds of unblended, planar colours, with the rest of the figure seeming to melt away. The bold colour palette and flattened perspective are reminiscent of seminal portraits by British Pop artist David Hockney, and further exemplify the influence of Pop Art on Humm’s practice. Rendered in oil, the paintings are worked up quickly, and retain a sketch-like quality and more immediate brushwork. Whilst seemingly schematic, Humm’s portraits capture both the physical likeness and inner personality of his models – the long-standing goal of all artistic endeavours in this field.

‘Philipp Rudolf Humm is a highly sophisticated artist, keenly aware of the cross-currents that exist within the now greatly extended world of contemporary art. In an acutely original fashion he merges classical painting techniques with Pop elements, to create a new kind of Expressionism, blending the influence of his German roots (the Blaue Reiter) and his Belgian ones (Delvaux and the Surrealist Movement). He is neither an abstract artist nor a landscape painter. His work belongs to a new phase in figurative art, which is transiting from the niche status forced upon it in the final stage of Modernism to become mainstream once again. Humm’s paintings succeed, very often, because they offer the viewer an echo chamber, one that resounds with cultural references, ancient and modern.’ - Edward Lucie-Smith, art critic, curator, writer, poet, broadcaster

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