His shows encapsulates the start of a practice that would span over 4 decades and change the way people interacted with fine art. The nightlife series would end up inspiring generations and become a cornerstone of todays street art movement.
In the late 1970’s, Canadian born artist Richard Hambleton devised a new series of work which he would place strategically across downtown Manhattan. The ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ series started with Richard taking full body self portrait cut outs of himself and pasting them across the city in the darkest hours for people to wake up to the next morning. These pasted artworks were placed in alleys, back streets, under street lights and behind garbage dumpsters. The pasted works created an eerie atmosphere where passers by would feel like they are always being watched. What happened next would be a moment in history that would change Richards life forever. During the wet and windy months, these pastings, printed on blueprint paper would weather away leaving a spooky grey silhouette stuck to the wall where Richard’s full body portrait once stood. This left over paste and paper residue would be the inspiration behind Richards most iconic series, The Shadow Man.
It was during this time that Richard met a young artist and photographer by the name of Franc Palaia. Richard explained to Franc how he was starting a new series called nightlife and it would be popping up around the city over the coming months. Hambleton would tell Franc in advance where he would strike next so Franc would head out with his camera in an attempt to capture Richards latest work whilst the paint was still fresh, all black and unadulterated as nothing was ever left alone for very long in New York. The work you see here on the walls today are some of those very images that Franc Palaia captured during this time period. Thanks to Franc’s foresight and commitment these images document works that are since long gone but will remain forever through the lens of Franc Palaia.
In 1985 Richard moved this practice to paper. A series of 53 standing shadow figures on Japanese Kinwashi paper, bound and mounted on 100% rag museum board that fold up into their own custom made wooden, hand signed and numbered presentation box. Richard named this series on paper NIGHTLIFE.
During the show we had 22 of those original 53 figures on display. On the walls were photographs captured by Franc Palaia showing the Shadowman street works that inspired the nightlife series and transcended into a body of work that would change art forever.
Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Rd,
London SW3 4RY