Hurvin Anderson (b. 1965)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Hurvin Anderson (b. 1965)

Ball Watching IV

Details
Hurvin Anderson (b. 1965)
Ball Watching IV
signed, titled and dated 'HurvinA Ball watching IV 2003' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
47 ¼ x 71 5/8in. (120 x 182cm.)
Painted in 2003
Provenance
Thomas Dane, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004.
Special notice

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

‘[Ball Watching] came from a photograph of me and some friends playing football in a park. On the odd occasion the ball would go into the pond. When you see the photograph there is a ball in the middle of the park. It was odd because it brought up so many other things for me. Like the idea of everyone waiting on the edge of the water. It looked like they were waiting for something, or waiting for something to happen. They also seemed to be going somewhere. Or wanting to be somewhere else, so there was the question of space and territory’
–Hurvin Anderson


Executed on a dramatic scale, Ball Watching IV is a deeply personal work that combines Hurvin Anderson’s central thematic concerns: the vicissitudes of memory, the presence of the past, the barriers erected between cultures and the mutability of identity. Based on a photograph from his childhood, the painting depicts the artist and his friends during a moment’s pause in a game of football, in which the ball has been kicked into a pond. The water glimmers to life with verdant greens and iridescent yellows, forming a shimmering, reflective plane that parallels the sun-wracked sky. Distant trees, in green and blossoming white, become a cloud-like, semi-abstracted realm that seems beyond reach and comprehension. The painting’s mise-en-scène, arranged in horizontal bands of colour, suggests barriers both physical – to visit the park, Anderson had to cross a railway track and climb a fence – and ruminative, between competing ideas of homeland. It was executed in the wake of a crucial moment in Anderson’s career, after an artist’s residency on Trinidad in 2002. For Anderson, born in Birmingham, UK, to first generation Jamaican immigrants, the experience represented an apotheosis in his work, prompting reflection on his own identity and cultural heritage. As he has explained, ‘I had always felt a double-edged thing about who I was and where I came from. In Trinidad I could be all these things, I was the Englishman, but I was also the Jamaican. It was an interesting place to explore this no man’s land, you could kind of drift back and forwards between these identities’ (H. Anderson quoted in M. Higgs, in Hurvin Anderson: Subtitles, exh. cat., Michael Werner Gallery, New York, 2011, unpaginated). Filtering his English past through a tropical chromatic spectrum that shifts between abstract and figurative registers, the present work captures the sense of being between states.

Anderson initially painted this scene in 1997, and has revisited it since in a concentrated reinterpretation of personal history. ‘The barriers are partly a personal story that I am trying to take to another space … less a personal space’, he explains. ‘Maybe it is a political discussion. To get to the place where we played football, we had to cross mainline railway tracks and climb over a fence. When we crossed these tracks, time seemed to slow down. For some odd reason it never seemed like I had enough time to cross. So, I started to make this painting about that sensation of slowness’ (H. Anderson, quoted at http://michaelwerner.com/artist/hurvin-anderson/news-item/2305 [accessed 3 September 2018]). While the series’ initial painting had a sombre palette of deep blues and aquamarine, Ball Watching IV is bathed in glowing Caribbean light, transforming the memory of crossing the tracks into a vision of cultural transition. The temporal and geographic shifts embedded in the painting’s surface are paralleled in its wide-ranging art-historical references: from the fulgent coloration of the Fauvists to the colour-based apportioning of space of Mark Rothko. Anderson studied at the Royal College of Art with Peter Doig, himself resident in Trinidad since 2000, and Ball Watching IV’s dream-like radiance parallels that of his teacher. ‘[Anderson’s] paintings’, writes Jennifer Higgie, ‘make clear how central reverie is to him; he has long been influenced in the great masters of leisure – in particular, Seurat and Monet’s near-forensic exploration of the innate abstraction of the natural world’ (J. Higgie, ‘Another word for feeling,’ in Hurvin Anderson: Reporting Back, exh. cat., Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2013, pp. 13-14). Entwining these precedents with well-developed topoi of his own, Ball Watching IV fuses autobiographical and art-historical narratives to create an entrancing allegorical vision.
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