Lot 28
  • 28

Hurvin Anderson

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • Hurvin Anderson
  • Untitled (Welcome Series)
  • oil on canvas
  • 165.1 by 256.5cm.
  • 65 by 101in.
  • Executed in 2004.


Thomas Dane Gallery, London
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2010


Norwich, Norwich School of Art and Design Gallery, EAST International, 2004
London, Saatchi Gallery; Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia, Newspeak, British Art Now, 2010-2011, p. 43, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate. Condition: This work is in very good condition. No restoration is apparent under ultraviolet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Executed in 2004, Hurvin Anderson’s stunning oil on canvas Untitled (Welcome Series) is the largest and most important work by the artist ever to be offered publically for sale. The painting is the perfect arena for the most celebrated and sought-after characteristics of Anderson’s practice, including in terms of its compositional content, technical virtuosity, and conceptual import. Anderson typically executes only four or five canvases a year due to a highly deliberate process of working and reworking that begins with a found image, progresses through series of collage and acrylic sketches before the commencement of a canvas. Following widespread critical acclaim after his inclusion in various international exhibitions and major solo museum shows mounted in London at Tate Britain (Art Now: Hurvin Anderson, February to April 2009) and in New York at The Studio Museum in Harlem (Hurvin Anderson: Peter’s Series 2007-2009, July to October 2009), and along with his direct contemporary Peter Doig, Hurvin Anderson is among the most vital interrogators of the possibilities of painting at work today.

The iconography of the present work is rooted in a street scene and shop front that the artist has transmogrified into a deceptively illusory and complex space that is replete with potent metaphorical suggestion. The “Welcome Series” instituted the first use of fences in the artist’s work, which subsequently became a significant leitmotif in his output. During a two-month artist residency program at Caribbean Contemporary Arts, Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 2002, Anderson became familiar with the widespread presence there of security fencing, guarding the fronts of shops, businesses, and public spaces as deterrent from potential intrusion as well as very literally defining parameters of day to day experience. With these fences he could manipulate the apparent paradox of barriers that are designed for division and impose distance yet simultaneously attract interest through their decorative and attractive design.

The present work functions on a grand scale at over two and a half metres wide and envelops the viewer. The implied perspectival depth of the central room-like space is dramatically contrasted against the superimposed and unyielding red linear grid of the fencing, which emphasises the surface of the picture plane. While the room beyond, apparently a glass-fronted store front per the reversed lettering that reads “FULL STRENGTH” towards the centre right, recedes into the distance, we are held back from this inviting space by the highly schematised barrier that immediately labels us as both potential voyeur and intruder. Anderson both conforms to Renaissance-derived monocular perspective through conventional orthogonal manipulation directed to a single vanishing point, and asserts a viewing experience that is born of the contemporary photographic crop and movie close up. For at this scale and designed to be viewed at a customary distance, the architectonic structure of the painted red grid, devoid of any concession to perspective, departs any experience approximating reality. Essentially our viewpoint should be from across the street, or rather the other side of ochre-streaked track road, but Anderson has cropped the composition and pushed the scene towards us to issue a profound sense of dislocation. As the Director of The Studio Museum in Harlem Thelma Golden has described: “All of Hurvin’s work seems to me to incorporate an intense amount of depth. Depth of field, depth of color, and even depth of subject.” (Interviewed by Vicky Lowry, “Hurvin Anderson,” Elle Decor, April 2011, p. 88).

Meanwhile the store itself is apparently filled with semi-abstracted images of provocative and seductive female silhouettes that themselves invoke the thematic paradox of voyeurism, simultaneously inviting a critique of and submission to eroticism that has been a mainstay of painterly enquiry from Titian to Manet to Koons. The graffiti-like sketches and daubs that populate the interior of this room are visual prompts to the nature of the space, and are archetypal of Anderson’s reductionist practice, arrived at after many rounds of preparation. The resulting and overwhelming sense of atmosphere implicates the artist’s memory, photographic records and his imagination. Moreover this is also a painting concerned with the act of painting itself: Anderson knowingly contrasting lavish brushstrokes of thick material against incised graphic linearity; stark conventions of perspective against the uncompromising silhouette of an all-enveloping angular matrix; subtle modulations of pale cream and grey tertiary colours against spectacular accents of arresting primary reds and blues. In these respects, Anderson’s interrogation of the currency of painting can be readily compared to that of Doig, with whom he studied at the Royal College of Art. Indeed, while Doig’s works of the early 1990s were concerned with the formal construction of his composition through architectonic compartments such as The House that Jacques Built, his Concrete Cabin series of the mid 1990s incorporated trees on the edge of a forest bordering Le Corbusier’s building Cité Radieuse to act as a screen and barrier to the glimpsed landscape beyond. More recently Doig’s output has focused on distinctly Caribbean scenes since he moved to Trinidad in 2002 and set up a studio at Caribbean Contemporary Arts such as Red boat (Imaginary boys). The confluences between the two artists are marked and manifold and Untitled (Welcome Series) broadcasts a power and effect that is readily comparable to Doig’s esteemed canvases.