VISUAL ARTS Fiona Rae, Gary Hume Saatchi Gallery, London

Gary Hume and Fiona Rae, showing together at the Saatchi Gallery, have all the right credentials for an exhibition at this the temple of fashionable new art. Both are in their mid-thirties and part of the Goldsmiths generation who graduated in the late Eighties; both participated in "Freeze", the now legendary exhibition staged by Damien Hirst in 1988, and both have been short-listed for, but failed to win, the Turner Prize. Perfect pedigrees for inclusion in the Saatchi stable.

Charles Saatchi has done them proud with a museum-style mini-retrospective of their young careers, none the less it must be strange for them to see so much of their work in the hands of one man. Flattering presumably, but also disconcerting. They both have reputations that reach far beyond the Saatchi web, but even so it seems like a lot of eggs to have in one basket.

The retrospective approach works best with Hume, whose work shows a clear progression from the monochromatic minimalism of his late-Eighties door paintings to the glossy figuration of the past few years. The continuity is in the technique - very smooth, very slick - the surface like enamel or the crisp sugar coating on a candied sweet. "The surface," according to Hume, "is all you get" - a comment on the shiny veneer, but also, in its deliberate banality, a refusal to make any grand claims for his work.

Despite Hume's determination to make nothing out of something, his paintings suggest other associations with links back to the Pop art world of 30 years ago (a kind of shiny Tom Wesselmann, or Allen Jones) and even to the paper cut-outs made by an aged and bedridden Matisse in the Fifties. Hume's odd blend of minimalism and cluttered kitsch is most effective when he keeps it simple, distilling the image into basic shapes and patterns. One of the best, Begging For It, depicts a praying or pleading figure silhouetted in blue with black-gloved arms against a lime green ground. It is an elegant reduction, very fin de siecle, absolutely of its own time.

Fiona Rae's work is similarly stamped with the spirit of the Nineties, but next to Hume her world seems altogether more chaotic. Her big abstract paintings are frenzied compilations of colour and shape, the product, as she describes it, of "having an argument in the painting". This process gives the work an undeniable energy, but the argument, it seems, is never settled.

The exhibition catalogue describes Rae's work as the visual equivalent of station hopping on the radio, snatches of this and that, but never still and never silent - a comment meant to intrigue but which also exposes her weakness. She makes pictures that are easy to look at but impossible to focus on - there is nowhere for the eye to rest. "The appeal of painting," she has said, "is that there is no solution. It always eludes you... it's a process with no possibility of arrival." As a painter this may be an admirable quest, but for a viewer the quest alone is not enough. Rae is perhaps a more original painter than Hume, but on the evidence here she is also a less satisfying one.

Saatchi Gallery, London NW8 (0171-624 8299). To 6 April Richard Ingleby

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent