The show brings together rare paintings on paper by Hambleton, best known for his arresting Shadowman silhouettes, with photographs by Palaia, who documented the artist’s infamous wall works during the 1980s.
The exhibition features 22 of Hambleton’s 53-strong Nightlife series, along with four recently unearthed Artist’s Proofs. Each piece sees Hambleton portray his trademark Shadowmen on classic Japanese Kinwashi paper, bound and mounted on 100% rag museum board - with each concertinaing into its own exquisitely handmade box.
The works have been brought together over a period of four years by Woodbury House Founder Steven Sulley and art consultant Michael Doohan, who were determined to reunite all the Nightlife Shadowmen. Although the Covid-19 crisis has forced the pair to pause their search, this exhibition represents the most complete presentation of the series since they were first shown together.
To celebrate this, Woodbury House will release an exclusive print of Nightlife 39, limited to an edition of 50. Silkscreened onto Japanese Ginwashi paper, the prints will be made available for purchase from the exhibition onwards, priced at £10,000 each.
The exhibition will also feature three self-portraits, entitled ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’– life-size serigraphs that originate from Hambleton’s 1980 project of the same name, which saw the artist wheatpaste 800 wide-eyed images of himself across the walls of 13 cities.
Alongside the works by Hambleton, the exhibition will include eight images by photographer Franc Palaia – the artist’s friend and confidant, who was invited to accompany him on his ‘guerilla’ expeditions.
Significant in their own right, these photographs also play an important art historical role, capturing not only Hambleton’s ephemeral paintings, but also the cities they inhabited at a very particular moment for street culture.
A new edition of Palaia’s book, Nightlife: The Shadow Paintings of Richard Hambleton, 1981-87 will be published on the occasion of the upcoming show.
Of Nightlife the exhibition, Sulley, who founded Woodbury House in 2014 with the dream of helping to build Hambleton's legacy as the godfather of street art, says, “We are tremendously excited to be able pay tribute to Hambleton, to bring these rare works together with Franc’s photographs, and to tell the story of this extraordinary, reclusive, and too often overlooked artist.”