For Beauty is Nothing But the Beginning of Terror Maggi Hambling Paintings and Drawings, 1960-
Lines are one of the most important elements in Hambling’s work. With her eyes and hands, she plays with the abstract dimension of lines, through which she tries to embody the emotional knowledge of objects that she encounters. The Wall of Water paintings cannot help but remind us initially of the landscape of Katsushika Hokusai. But they are different. Hambling’s water is more dynamic, as if trying to emphasise the powerful momentum of waves; all the thick brushstrokes indicate the difference, as well as the connections, between eastern and western civilisations.
In addition to oil paintings, Hambling has also made a huge number of drawings, which perfectly exemplify her understanding and creative use of lines. What might appear as casual lines can barely conceal – in fact reveal – the deep emotions and feelings the artist had for the people she painted. In the history of art, artists of the 15th and 16th centuries were more artist-like when they drew, and more artisan- like when they painted. In most cases, drawings that consist of lines are more intimate and instinctive, not subject to a determining will, and can thus give full rein to an artist’s emotion and imagination. To some extent they are soliloquies of the artist’s mind as it encounters another person or landscape. Through Hambling’s drawings we can begin to make sense of her unadorned emotions and creative passion, indispensable in the making of art.
For Beauty is Nothing but the Beginning of Terror: Maggi Hambling Paintings and Drawings, 1960 —
is the artist’s first large-scale solo exhibition in China, displaying a large body of oil paintings,
prints, drawings and sculptures. It is in one sense a comprehensive review of her artistic career since the 1960s. The exhibition derives its title from the great Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies. Meditations on life and the cosmos run through all the works in the exhibition and are illuminated by its title and by Rilke’s great poem cycle.
Curated by Philip Dodd, this exhibition is another important international academic exhibition introduced by our museum in the wake of the Sean Scully solo exhibition. It is our firm belief that this show will serve as a bridge for Sino-European cultural and artistic communication, and will bring to our audience a visual feast by an important European artist, as well as a cross-cultural experience in contemporary art.
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