Still Life with Artificial Flowers evokes a snapshot of the artist’s mother’s front room in Birmingham. The vase depicted at its centre was a prized possession that travelled with the artist’s mother from Jamaica. Set against the warm, deep red, flocked wallpaper and atop elaborate lace doilies, the heavily patterned ‘kitsch’ aesthetic acts as a nod to ‘pop’ culture, elevating inexpensive everyday objects. The reverence afforded these items shows them as indicators of luxury and comfort, marking the front room as the best room in the house.
Artificial flowers (in a glass vase) are mentioned in The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home (Michael McMillan and Stuart Hall, 2009) as one of the listed ‘top ten’ items found in a West Indian family front room. Anderson’s print is both a homage to the aesthetics of the front room and an interior that will be familiar to many families.
For this print commission, Anderson worked with The Print Studios Kip Gresham and Alan Grabham to replicate sourced and saved fabrics and wallpapers. The thirteen base colours in the print are built up from 15 stencils over 21 layers.
Anderson was the first artist to be awarded the TenTen commission by the Government Art Collection (GAC), as part of a ten-year initiative. Produced jointly by the Government Art Collection with Outset Contemporary Art Fund, the project is sponsored by leading philanthropists Sybil Robson Orr and Matthew Orr.
Born in Birmingham, as the youngest of eight siblings, Hurvin Anderson was the only child not to be born in Jamaica, instilling an interest in his dual identity that plays throughout his work. He graduated from Wimbledon School of Art in 1994 and his distinct painting style is informed both by British painters such as Leon Kossoff, Michael Andrews and David Hockney, as well as a generation of Black British artists, Sonia Boyce, Eddie Chambers and Keith Piper.
Anderson’s vibrant paintings draw on the genres of still life, landscape and portraiture to explore the way community and identity can be represented. Repeated images, such as the interior of barbershops, appear throughout his paintings as places synonymous with enterprise, affirmation and community for many Afro-Caribbean migrants. His work pays homage to this cultural history and explores themes of memory, identity and nationhood.
Selected solo exhibitions include Backdrop, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada (2016); Dub Versions, New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK (2016); Backdrop, CAM, St Louis, USA (2015); Reporting Back, IKON Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2013); and ART NOW: Hurvin Anderson, Tate Britain, London, UK (2009). He was shortlisted for the 2017 Turner Prize.
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