Filmmaker Oren Jacoby chooses to spotlight New York artist Richard Hambleton in his latest documentary SHADOWMAN. In his own words, "It's about the creative life of a brilliant painter who is, at heart, a loner, someone who struggles with addiction and pushes people away, but never stops making art."
Jacoby first observed Hambleton's art in downtown New York City in the early 1980s. He recalls, "I was enthralled by the ‘shadows,’ scary, life-size silhouettes that started springing up on walls all over the neighborhood." Thirty years later, Jacoby meets Hambleton and realizes that he was the artist who had painted the black silhouettes and helped invent "street art."
Hambleton's journey as an artist led him down a long and winding road stretching from being a starving artist to an extremely wealthy one, from being an a artist with presence to one who vanished from the scene for years at a time, and from a beloved artist to a forgotten one.
Jacoby started working on Richard's story in 2009 when Richard surfaced and was found by two young art dealers. There was a twenty-year period where no one knew if Hambleton was dead or alive. Jacoby features rare footage of the 1980s’ art and music scene of New York City to re-live those “times that were a changin'.”
At the time, Jacoby notes, "There were three most admired and ground-breaking artists that were friends and rivals: Jean-Michel Basquiat, dead at 27; Keith Haring, dead at 31; and Hambleton, remarkable still alive and working in 2017."
Self-inflicted abuse took Hambleton from the art scene for over two decades but he never stopped painting. When Hambleton resurfaces Jacoby jumps at the chance to document Hambleton's story filming him wherever he'd be allowed.
In telling his story Jacoby thought he'd have to leave out what is known as Hambleton's "lost years" until home movies were discovered shot twenty years prior by artist and photographer Clayton Patterson. Jacoby says, "We found earlier footage from 1981, of Richard-at-night, painting the first of his shadows on the walls of lower Manhattan, and creating his first celebrated work on canvas."
Jacoby's SHADOWMAN is a look at a famed artist given a second chance to once again reign in the world where he was once an icon and ever so passionate...but will he take it? A film of intrigue not to be missed.