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Hurvin Anderson (b. 1965)
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Hurvin Anderson (b. 1965)

Mount Royal (Lac des Castors)

Details
Hurvin Anderson (b. 1965)
Mount Royal (Lac des Castors)
oil on canvas
102 x 76in. (259 x 193cm.)
Painted in 1998
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, 5 June 1998.
Exhibited
London, Royal College of Art, Graduate Show, 1998.
Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, Hurvin Anderson: reporting back, 2013, p.135 (illustrated in colour, p.17).
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Mount Royal (Lac des Castors) [was] inspired by photographs of his sister – who emigrated to Canada – sent back to her family in Birmingham ... However, Anderson told me that despite the biographical elements in his work, he feels it’s vital to create a distance from the original photographs in order to uncover what he describes as “something inherent in the picture”. What this something is he is still working out, via a process of photocopying, collage, drawing and painting – techniques that echo the layering and re-working of memory itself’
JENNIFER HIGGIE

‘I felt painting was the way I could discuss things, question the world around me. It was my way of looking at things’
HURVIN ANDERSON


A seminal early work executed on a monumental scale, Mount Royal (Lac des Castors) captures the slippages of time, memory and place that have come to define Hurvin Anderson’s oeuvre. Included in his celebrated solo exhibition at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, in 2013, it represents the birth of an artistic language that, most recently, has seen him nominated for this year’s Turner Prize. Beneath a leaden sky, a woman stands on a frozen blue lake, a small child by her side. Swaddled in bright winter garments of red, orange and canary yellow, their faces blur into obscurity. In places, pigment drips down the length of the canvas like thawing ice; elsewhere, it quivers in misty horizontal strata like rising fog. The clouds above are thick with impasto, as if heavy with rain or snow. Oscillating between figurative clarity and painterly abstraction, the figures shift in and out of focus, their bodies rendered in thin, translucent layers. Painted in 1998, and acquired from the artist’s degree show at the Royal College of Art that year, the work and its companion – Beaver Lake – were based on a photograph of Anderson’s sister, who emigrated to Canada and sent the snapshot back to her family. Born in the UK Midlands to parents of Jamaican origin, the artist is fascinated by the experience of geographic dislocation. His works – created by filtering source imagery through a variety of techniques – seek to evoke the sensation of dreaming from afar. The grainy, pliable, incalculable substance of paint comes to embody the shifting states of reverie and recollection. As Jennifer Higgie explains, ‘his source material is simply a starting point; it’s equally important for him to allow the experiences and locations referenced in his pictures to collide and interact – history, after all, is not clear cut, and neither is the act of remembering’ (J. Higgie, ‘Another word for feeling’, in Hurvin Anderson: reporting back, exh. cat., Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2013, p. 12). Situated at the dawn of his practice, the present work sets the stage for the evolution of this approach within Anderson’s oeuvre.

It was in 1998 that Anderson completed his MA at the Royal College of Art in London. There, he had studied under Peter Doig: an artist similarly inspired by concepts of memory and displacement. For both painters, Canada and the Caribbean came to function as key points of reference. Whilst Doig had spent parts of his childhood between these landscapes, the young Anderson felt himself a stranger to both. The frozen shores of Canada were – at this stage – as foreign to him as the Jamaican climes he had imagined from his British bedroom. Indeed, the trees that linger in the background of the present work foreshadow those that would recur in his later series of Lower Lake pictures, based on Handsworth Park in Birmingham where he spent much of his youth. For Anderson, the confluence of places real and imaginary is fuelled by his approach to his source material. ‘Anderson told me that despite the biographical elements in his work, he feels it’s vital to create a distance from the original photographs in order to uncover what he describes as “something inherent in the picture”’, explains Higgie. ‘What this something is he is still working out, via a process of photocopying, collage, drawing and painting – techniques that echo the layering and re-working of memory itself’ (J. Higgie, ‘Another word for feeling’, in Hurvin Anderson: reporting back, exh. cat., Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2013, p. 12). By subjecting the photograph of his sister to multiple treatments, the artist seeks – conversely – to bring himself closer to it. As the identities of both figure and landscape fade into anonymity, Anderson takes ownership of a scene from which he is – both geographically and temporally – disconnected. The play of paint, colour, texture and form, like the wanderings of a daydream, ultimately becomes a means of reconciling distance.

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