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Shadowman

Hot Docs

2017 (Oren Jacoby) R, 83 minutes

While Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring are entrenched in the canon of modern art, their friend and contemporary Richard Hambleton remains far more elusive. Born and trained in Vancouver, and an aspiring New York City painter by the 1970s, Hambleton’s star rose with his Shadowman series. Splashing black paint silhouettes of a life-sized mystery figure on buildings all over the city, Hambleton created a sensation: the newly dubbed “street art”. But at the height of his celebrity and success, he left. Wanting to grow as an artist, he toured Europe, and never rebounded to the same fame on his return. Burned by art dealers and mired in heroin addiction as he was, most critics had given Hambleton up for dead. When two scenesters manage to connect with the recluse, they offer him a lifeline out of obscurity—a splashy new show. But can the fragile body and scarred soul of a resolute artist survive a comeback? Myrocia Watamaniuk

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