Maggi Hambling (b. Sudbury, Suffolk 1945) is a British painter and sculptor much celebrated in her home country of Britain, and increasingly visible globally. Hambling studied first locally at Cedric Morris’ and Lett Haines’ East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, before going to the Ipswich (1962-64), Camberwell (1964-67) and Slade (1967-69) Schools of Art. In 1980 she was invited to be the first artist to have a contemporary artist in residence in the National Gallery, London.
Hambling is best known for her "Self-Portraits" and "Portraits" of important figures from her past, including her mentor the artist Lett Haines who died in 1978 and the artist Francis Bacon whose face dissolves in laughter. The portraits condense their subjects with rapid, gestural marks clinging to a white ground. Within these turbulent formations of paint, looser, more abstracted images emanate an emotional sincerity that springs from the artist’s continuing engagement with life in the here and now. These portraits transmit double moods of humor and doubt, anger and joy, aliveness and mortality. Hambling's most recent "Edge" paintings, made on tall canvases reminiscent of Chinese ink scrolls, depict mountains and polar wastes through bold accumulations of indigo and white, to suggest an internal–psychological–wilderness as much as a physical setting. The "Wall of Water" paintings are a large-scale works, depicting explosions of water inspired by the experience of watching waves crash into a concrete sea wall. They were created in the wake of the death of a close friend. Conveying a dual sense of aliveness and disintegration, they resonate with the works of painters as diverse as Twombly and Bacon.
Hambling has enjoyed numerous solo exhibitions since 1980, including two solo exhibitions at The National Gallery in London, in 1981 and 2014 respectively; solo exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery in 1983 and 2009. Other significant exhibitions have included The Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (1981), the Yorkshire Sculpture park (1997), Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal (2007), The Lowry, Salford (2009), Walker Arts Gallery, Liverpool (2009), The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (2010), Winchester Cathedral (2013), The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (2013), Somerset House (2015), The British Museum, London (2016) The Jerwood Gallery (2018) and CAFA Art Museum, Beijing (2019).