The Shadow Man

I’ve undertaken many photographic projects in New York City. One of the shortest-lived, but one that yielded very interesting, long-lasting results, was when I sought out examples of Richard Hambleton’s Shadowman paintings throughout New York City.

Public art, people often called it graffiti, was very prevalent in the early 1980s, and some of the most interesting was done by Hambleton, in 1981 and 1982. These malevolent Shadowmen are no longer found lurking in the Lower East Side, but thirty years ago they seemed to be everywhere and many of them survived for many years. I was drawn to them because of their energy, and that they were a magnet for other graffiti artists. The ironic way in which some had been defaced made for very arresting images.

It is now many years later and Richard Hambleton is one of the few of these exciting, once young painter, who has survived. He still lives on Orchard Street, but rarely paints outdoors, preferring to working on similar images inside his studio. In 2009 many of my photographs were exhibited in conjunction with Hambleton's paintings at a major retrospective in New York City. They will be exhibited in Milan in February 2010. In between these two shows I spent some time at Hambleton’s studio and took a number of photographs of him and his work, as well as him working. The problems of aging have slowed him down a bit but his paintings still exhibit as much energy as they did three decades ago.