Richard Hambleton
October Cats
at Woodward Gallery
October 2021


Richard Hambleton
October Cats
October 2021
Woodward Gallery, NYC

Woodward Gallery is celebrating artist, Richard Hambleton (1952-2017), throughout October, with original paintings and a series of black cats, which were originally published during the artist’s life. Hambleton’s Cat Stack portfolio, realized fifteen years ago, will briefly be on-view this Halloween season. Hambleton had mainly self-published his print editions, though he worked directly with Woodward Gallery to accomplish this special series.

The black cat has long been a symbol of darkness and defiance. Richard Hambleton was, himself, a night animal, secretly placing his memorable, shadowy silhouette-figures on urban walls. His conceptual nature encouraged a response to his public figures. Richard’s shadow cats are an extension of that interest and a commentary on existence. He identified with the feral black cat, who elusively moved about the city streets at night. Richard respected cats, existing quietly and independently, but also remaining protective and fierce when provoked. He harnessed the feline spirit in his paintings by articulating the animal’s different stances. Richard Hambleton had interest in other animals too, for example, sketching the strong bodies of horses bucking or running, all throughout his career.

The Cat Stack series, completed in 2006, consists of a single, arched, shadow cat, landing onto a stack of books. This suite represents how a fortunate, yet startled, black cat finds itself captured in the artist’s studio, after wondering the streets. By elevating the black cat on a tower of books, Richard aimed to show how the creature has reached a higher state of being. A vertical paint stroke symbolizes a magic wand, referencing witchcraft. The feline’s shadowy silhouette is presented against red, gold, and silver on Rives BFK paper. Red was one of Richard’s favorite colors, alluding to love and blood. Forever hoping to achieve the sublime in his Beautiful Paintings, silver and gold leaf provided the richness Richard desired. These specific tones were chosen by Hambleton to juxtapose the black cat and the brightly colored background, illustrating the cat as something to be feared and a symbol of mysterious beauty.

The work is on view 24/7 in our street level exhibition windows this October only.