Maggi Hambling Combines Art, War And Water

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 38 months ago
Maggi Hambling Combines Art, War And Water ★★★☆☆ 3
These portraits of victims are powerful paintings. Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
These portraits of victims are powerful paintings. Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
Aftermath (Amy Winehouse) -- a title that belies its inspiration. Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
Aftermath (Amy Winehouse) -- a title that belies its inspiration. Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
This large scale battlefield scene from Hambling's war series is among the more powerful works on display. Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
This large scale battlefield scene from Hambling's war series is among the more powerful works on display. Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
These sculptures never quite convey the grotesque as they are intended to. Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
These sculptures never quite convey the grotesque as they are intended to. Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield
Copyright Maggi Hambling, Photograph by Douglas Atfield

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

The King's Cultural Institute is an often overlooked venue, yet it has put on some great exhibitions. It's hoping to win over the crowds with a survey show of Maggi Hambling's work, hot on the heels of her display at The National Gallery. This includes many older works and some of her latest sculptures, in a varied exhibition that sets out to prove Hambling is more than just an expressive painter.

The exhibition has a strong opening, with two rooms dedicated to war featuring victim's faces emerging from dark swirls and the surreal painting of cuddling skulls. The operatic 'War Requiem' plays in one room and visitors are invited to sit down and let the music and the abstract landscapes envelope them — it's a powerful installation, though be bettered with some atmospheric lighting.

Those who enjoyed Hamling's water series at the National Gallery will find similar works in a room where the sounds of water sloshing into the bottom of a well provide for a calming experience.

It's Hambling's latest works that let the show down — salvaged pieces of wood cast into bronze are designed to evoke the grotesque and the imaginary, but simply come across as dull and ineffective. At odds with the rest of the show there is a pink landscape with veiled women carrying rocket launchers, which feels at best confused and at worst tasteless.

This is very much a mixed show of Hambling's work at its evocative best and also its ineffectual worst.

Maggi Hambling: War, Requiem & Aftermath is on at The Cultural Institute at King's, Somerset House East Wing until 31 May. Entrance is free.

For more great art to see, visit our top 10 exhibitions for March.

Last Updated 05 March 2015