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London – Maggi Hambling at the British Museum is an exciting surprise, with her drawing exhibition “Touch: works on paper”.
The exhibition celebrates a major donation by the artist of around fifteen of her works, confirming the bicentenary tradition of artists donating their works to the British Museum, which was established in 1816 with the bequest of Francis Towne. Maggi Hambling’s gift will be the latest manifestation of that tradition, maybe remembering she has spent time over the years in the British Museum Study Room examining the work of Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
One of the leading contemporary figurative artists of the UK, Maggi Hambling works across all media, in painting, printmaking, sculpture and installation with drawing at the core centre of her practice.
The British Museum exhibition takes its title ‘Touch’ from the idea of a profound relation between the artist and the subject being drawn, but also between Hambling and her own work. She said: “I believe the subject chooses the artist, not vice versa, and that subject must then be in charge during the act of drawing in order for the truth to be found. Eye and hand attempt to discover and produce those precise marks which will recreate what the heart feels. The challenge is to touch the subject, with all the desire of a lover.”
This exhibition explores Hambling’s drawings and prints, many of which have never been exhibited before, from early student drawings and etchings, to portraits of artist and critic John Berger, actor Stephen Fry, and curator Norman Rosenthal.
The exhibition is in a fairly chronological order, spanning for the life of Maggi Hambling. ‘Touch’ is made of forty works, around a quarter from British Museum’s own collection, with loans from private collections, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate. The remaining works are from the personal collection of Hambling.