“The very reasons that painting’s thought to be dead are the reasons I love it. It’s very old. It’s very simple. It’s very direct. It’s very primitive.” Gary Hume, who is himself a kind of knowing, modern primitive, is sitting in the kitchen-cum-dining-cum-living-room of his studio, a converted warehouse in

Hoxton Square
East London, where he has lived and worked for the last ten years. Stubble-cheeked and self-possessed, he wears a white T-shirt and jeans spattered with paint - sticky drips of the standard household gloss which he has used, from the very start of his career, in preference to Old Masterly oils. The most conspicuous feature of the room is an amazingly pink curved sofa, like a stuck-out tongue.

If painters are, as some believe, an endangered species, then Hume for one is not going quietly. At 37 he is both the most prominent and the most active - manically active, some might say - English painter of his generation. He represented Britain in June of this year at the Venice Biennale. In August he exhibited new works in a one-man show at the Edinburgh Festival. This winter (26 November-23 January) he will be showing even more new work, in yet another one-man show, this time at the Whitechapel Gallery. Having experienced more than his fair share of creative block and crisis in the past, these days it seems that Hume can’t stop painting. “At the moment it’s as if my work is feeding off itself - there’s this weird parasitic feeding going on. Each time I paint a picture I can see another whole one in a small part of it, so I go on and paint that.”

The pictures in question are large, bright, elegant and frequently disconcerting, not least in their incorrigible variousness. The...

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