Sat 28 June 2008, Financial Times

Eloquent silence

By Emily Stokes
The adjective most often used to describe the paintings of Gary Hume is “dumb”. Hume prefers “mute”, but you can see why dumb has stuck. His large works of household gloss paint on aluminium sheets take as their subject matter “portraits, flora and fauna” and use bold, sharp outlines in the way that a wallpaper print or colouring book might do. Their surfaces, filled in with clashing colours (ice-cream pinks with manure greens, canary yellows with near-blacks) are so smooth and reflective that they seem to “say” nothing at all – yet it is as impossible to resist them as it is to resist roses, or branches of blossom, or cheerleaders, or Kate Moss (all of them his subjects). They are neither shocking nor remotely personal; they couldn’t be more different, in fact, from the noisy work of his peers. But despite dissimilarities with Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Angus Fairhurst or Matt Collishaw, Gary Hume will forever be a Young British Artist. This is because his career was launched at the same moment as theirs, 20 years ago this month, in a student show now acknowledged to be one of the most significant exhibitions of the 20th century: Freeze .