Nick Hackworth

Gary Hume – Cave Paintings, White Cube

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

They began as a commission for a collector’s shower room.

A pleasingly domestic origin for a series of works in an age that treats art with too much reverence. After all, Brancussi’s bronzes once sat on the desks of wealthy patrons, and Picasso’s used to hang over sofas. Knowing that his paintings wouldn’t take kindly to the latest power-shower technology, Gary Hume took his aggressively minimal style, which hovers between figuration and abstraction, into stone.

Inspired by Victorian funerary deco rations, he has effectively collaged sections of differently coloured and

finished marble to create wall-challengingly heavy “canvases” and formed lines by beating lead into grooves carved into the stone. Eight of these large works, each taking the mother and child as their subject, hang in White Cube.

Over the years, Hume has become increasingly subtle and muted. His best-known works, using household gloss on aluminium, took popular figures such as Kate Moss and Tony Black- burn and flattened them into patches of colour, draining these icons of meaning. More recently, he has restricted his palette with greys and dark greens predominating, and has evidently fallen in love with the graphic line. In the best works, executed in the darkest stones that conjure an air of sombre opulence, complex webs of flowing lines lead the eye into busy movements, breaking out to describe a child’s face or maternal embrace.

In a few works, unfortunate choices of colour and finish — such as the use of bright blues and polished beiges — push the works over the edge into kitsch. Happily, these aberrations are outweighed by the understated power of Hume’s new, grand and heavy tone.

Until 1 July. Information: 020 7930 5373,