Gary Hume shows Cherie Blair around his exhibition at the British Pavilion in 1999 ©

British Council

Gary Hume, an artist best known for his bright, flat, colourful paintings, produced by using household gloss paint on aluminium primed with acid, was invited to exhibit at the Pavilion in 1999. 

Hume’s Pavilion exhibition included several portraits of famous figures, such as the supermodel Kate Moss, artist Cerith Wyn Evans and painter Francis Bacon, whom he greatly revered. Despite their fame, the sitters’ identities are not always immediately identifiable; in Kate (1996) her face is rubbed out and Cerith’s portrait only has minimal features. 

His series of Water Paintings (1999), one of which is now part of Tate’s collection, show layered outlines of silhouettes of women, including his wife, on monochrome backgrounds.

The iconic British indie band Pulp played at the British Pavilion’s opening party as their lead singer Jarvis Cocker was a friend of Hume’s. The exhibition also attracted high-profile visitors such as Cherie Blair, wife of Tony Blair, the UK’s Prime Minister at the time.

Cerith (1997), Gary Hume, painted gloss on aluminium panel
Cerith (1997), Gary Hume, painted gloss on aluminium panel. Collection of Joe and Marie Donnelly, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York ©

Gary Hume

Andrea Rose, Director of Visual Arts at the British Council, was the Commissioner of the Pavilion for the fourth time, with support from British Council colleagues Brendan Griggs and Clarrie Wallis.