Executed in 1991, Untitled (Two Doors), Untitled (Four Doors) and Untitled (Four Doors) form part of the celebrated series of Door Paintings by leading YBA Gary Hume. Foundational in his development, it was these works that propelled the artist to international fame. During the early part of his career Hume only painted doors. In these three drawings, we are presented with differing views of the same subject matter, with each of the doors slightly differing in scale and type. Eschewing decorative treatment, Hume chooses simplistic doors to ensure that there is possibility of deducing where these doors might be located; there is no reference to specific profession, social class, nationality or any other defining attribute. Yet, even stripped down to their most basic forms and shapes, the doors present a stark modernist aesthetic, easily recognised as hospital doors. The artist has explained: 'the door looked like a face, which I liked straight away, and it also looked like perfect modernism' (G. Hume quoted in Gary Hume, exh. cat, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 2000, p. 11).
Hume began his Door Paintings series in the early nineties with an almost monochrome palette. However, as the series progresses, more and more colour is introduced. Initially choosing the subject matter to focus on the concept of repetition, this self-imposed limitation began to slowly reveal a range of possibilities and unexplored areas, along with the gradual implementation of a more varied palette. In this way, Hume's series is reminiscent of Gerhard Richter's grey paintings. Richter describes these as having begun in the belief that painting was no longer capable of renewing itself, acting as a final cancellation of the practice. Richter's resulting grey paintings reveal that there is still space for differentiation between apparently identical subject matter, just as Hume discovered the countless variation existing with the doors. Whilst both artists were originally interested in their conceptual possibilities, for Hume the series also offered a neat coalescence between the drawn image and the thing represented. Untitled (Two Doors), Untitled (Four Doors) and Untitled (Four Doors) all represent doors, yet they are clearly not actual doors. The viewer's inevitable curiosity about what lies behind them is rendered absurd, as it is of course nothing but the wall. In this way, Hume cleverly plays with our associations that make it impossible to contemplate a door without considering where it leads to, offering a conceptually rich and visually powerful set of works.