Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Outside Looking In

"I'm quite into the idea that there's more to a painting than what you are looking at”
Hurvin Anderson

As the youngest of eight children and the only one to be born in England after his Jamaican parents immigrated in the 1960’s, Hurvin Anderson portrays the world from the view point of an outsider.

As he told Sotheby’s Alex Branczik “The first time I went to Jamaica, I was fourteen. My elder siblings all came from there and I got to know the island through them. I wasn’t born there, so I didn’t actually fit in. I feel more British than Jamaican at times and vice versa. My painting is a dialogue between these two territories - trying to get these two places to meet.

The Observer Newspaper’s Alex Taylor wrote about Anderson’s work sayingAs paintings go, they are more emblems than they are descriptions, embedded in flat, semi-abstract space.

An observation that Anderson elaborated about in the video made for his 2013 exhibition Reporting Back.

“I’m not a writer, you know, I felt as though painting was the way I could actually discuss things, question the world around me. It was my way of kind of looking at things. I do see a lot of my work as observation. OK, I do play with color and form in a way, but I do also think, I do also feel it is what’s in front of you when you take things apart. Yes, I’m constructing things, but I’m kinda putting things back together as to what is actually happening in a way.”

From his paintings of barber shops in his Peter’s Series, which examine the Afro-Caribbean community of his youth in the British city of Birmingham, to his Welcome Series inspired by his visit to Trinidad in 2002 and his fascination with the decorative security grills, Anderson explores the shifting notions of cultural identity.

As the director of the Ikon Gallery, Jonathan Watkins, wrote in the forward to Anderson’s Reporting Back exhibition “the scenes Anderson depicts are sites of leisure where the mind is usually free to wander. He talks of being in one place “but actually thinking about another”, not as a problem necessarily but as a fact of his life.”

His latest exhibition Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop is currently on show at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis until the 27th of December.

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