Shadowman: the art before Banksy and Basquiat ☝

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Shadowman documentary wins 2nd place at Tribeca Film Festival

Text by Cristina Ochoa

Photos by Briana Prieto F. and Woodward Gallery

Translation by Briana Prieto F. in collaboration with Paula Villanueva

In the 1980s, three artists began to form the critical line of urban art: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Richard Hambleton, also known as “the godfather of street art.”

Hambleton, born in Vancouver, was co-director of “Pumps” Center for Alternative Art, an exhibition space in his Canadian hometown.

Long before Banksy, Hambleton aimed to catch people’s attention with a style that sought to be critical, allowing them to see the defining moments of his life. He thus created Shadowman, a shadow in his paintings that often reflected his own figure.

The evolution of Shadowman’s work was made into a documentary by director Oren Jacoby, in a film with the same name, which won second place in the category of documentary at Tribeca Film Festival 2017.

The film portrays Hambleton at the time of his artistic heyday, but also shows a Shadowman in decadence: his drug abuse, his artistic work as an economic engine to obtain such substances, and the beginning of his disease.

While Richard Hambleton was one of the most recognized artists of his time, setting a precedent for the next generations of street art, his life of excess led him to live in the streets, to work with his own blood to sell paintings for his drug consumption.

The documentary based on his artistic and personal life – which also influences his work -, won second place at the film festival that began in 2002 by director Jane Rosenthal and actor Robert De Niro as a proposal aiming to give greater vitality to Tribeca following the September 11 attacks.

Oren Jacoby’s work inthe documentary genre is internationally recognized with films such as My Italian Secret, Constantine’s Sword, and Sister Rose’s Passion.

“For me the city is not a blank canvas. It is a painting, a film that contains sociological and psychological elements. My urban work is added to it and is part of that film… the blank canvas is in the studio,” said Hambleton of his work.

Works by Shadowman also in galleries

At the same time as the Shadowman’s life was presented in the documentary, New York galleries Dorian Grey and Woodward exhibited Hambleton’s artwork portraying the economic situations that happened before becoming one of the pioneers of street art.

Dorian Grey Gallery has been characterized for promoting works by emerging artists as well as being a space focused on urban art. ALL CITY CANVAS visited their Shadowman exhibition and shared some of Hambleton’s work here.

Woodward Gallery exhibits work by Hambleton as well. This gallery is recognized because through its exhibitions it generates and builds an artistic community. Part of its main objectives is to promote national and international artists. Photos of the exhibition found in the article.

If interested in any of the art, you can contact the galleries and schedule an appointment.


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