Lot 11
  • 11


300,000 - 400,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Hurvin Anderson
  • Marlene's
  • signed with the artist's initials, titled and dated April 2005 on the overlap; titled on the stretcher
  • oil on canvas
  • 88.5 by 146 cm. 34 7/8 by 57 1/2 in.


Thomas Dane Gallery, London Acquired from the above by David Teiger in 2005


London, Thomas Dane Gallery, Hurvin Anderson: New Paintings, June - July 2005, n.p., no. 12, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate although the overall tonality is slightly warmer in the original. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report.
"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

Combining elements of Hurvin Anderson’s highly celebrated Country Club and Welcome series, Marlene’s depicts a bar interior partially obscured by a tessellating chain-link fence. Masterfully juxtaposing the geometric abstraction created by the grille with punctuating details, such as the strip lighting across the top of the canvas and the assortment of coloured objects on the right hand side, Marlene’s is characterised by its immense sense of depth, which binds all the very best works of Anderson’s oeuvre. As Thelma Golden, director of The Studio Museum in Harlem at the time of the artist’s exhibition there, noted, “All of Hurvin’s work seems to me to incorporate an intense amount of depth. Depth of field, depth of colour, and even depth of subject” (Thelma Golden in conversation with Vicky Lowry, ‘Hurvin Anderson’, Elle Decor, April 2011, p. 88). However, this depth of field is, as Eddie Chambers points out, “somewhat disconcerting” as it renders the viewer “uncertain as to what might lie immediately behind the patterned grille” (Eddie Chambers, ‘Double consciousness’, in: Exh. Cat., Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, Hurvin Anderson: reporting back, 2013, p. 77). The space depicted is thus an intermediate one, insistently occupying a different plane to the viewer, who becomes a voyeur to the scene that unfolds in the painting. This barricade that Anderson erects between viewer and subject is entirely characteristic of a body of work that directly confronts the legacy of colonialism in the Caribbean. As Eddie Chambers observes, Anderson’s Jamaica is “very different to that enjoyed by holidaymakers from the US or Europe” (Ibid., p. 76). This is partially due to the sense of dislocation that the artist felt when he visited Trinidad in 2002: despite his having never been there before, people assumed he was a local. This dichotomy of belonging and displacement is reflected in many of his paintings from this period, as it provided a neat parallel to the status of black people in the Caribbean during the colonial era. However most strikingly, and most divorced from the white Western tourist’s experience, is the literal construction of barriers throughout the Caribbean. Ornate grilles that cover every door and first floor window are ostensibly decorative, but there can be no ambiguity regarding their true purpose, and by association, no preventing a pervasive sense of the potential for violence and crime.

Through the grilles that Anderson paints, interiors become caged entities, confined and threatened. The viewer looks through the bars of this cage as he would in a zoo, the objects pedestalised and rendered redundant, the scene presented as an exhibit. In doing so he becomes complicit in the othering process that is inherent in colonial discourse, the observer of an involuntary subject. Forcing the viewer to confront the legacy of a dominant white narrative in art criticism and appreciation, Anderson creates a psychological barrier in addition to the literal barrier of the grille, which in turn echoes the work of his former teacher, Peter Doig, whose Concrete Cabins see Le Corbusier’s utopian Unité d’Habitation slip in and out of view behind a screen of tree trunks. The effect of this is disorienting and unsettling – the viewer cannot fully view the subject of the picture.

Veering between figuration and abstraction, Marlene’s epitomises the multifaceted nature of the artist’s practice. From the named but unseen proprietor to the locus of relaxation to which the viewer is denied entry, the painting is riddled with moments of disquiet that give the viewer pause. However, as Jennifer Higgie noted in her essay for Anderson’s seminal exhibition at Ikon Gallery in 2013, “despite the allusions in the paintings to the complex histories of leisure, politics and control… meaning is open-ended and allusive rather than emphatic” (Jennifer Higgie, ‘Another word for feeling’, in: Exh. Cat., Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, op. cit., p. 11). Avoiding didacticism whilst retaining the conceptual tenets that underpin all of the artist’s best work, Marlene’s epitomises the thoughtful practice that earned the artist a Turner prize nomination in 2017 and has brought him to international acclaim.