Turner Prize – one of the art world’s most prestigious visual arts awards – has announced this years’ shortlisted artists, including Hurvin Anderson, nominated for his solo exhibitions, Dub Versions at New Art Exchange
Turner Prize – one of the art world’s most prestigious visual arts awards – has announced this years’ shortlisted artists, including Hurvin Anderson, nominated for his solo exhibitions, Dub Versions at New Art Exchange (NAE), Nottingham, and Backdrop at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada.
New Art Exchange – the largest centre for culturally diverse arts in the UK – launched Hurvin Anderson’s major new solo-exhibition Dub Versions in July 2016. The exhibition unveiled his prestigious new painting Is It Okay To Be Black? (2016) commissioned by Arts Council Collection for their 70th anniversary and co-commissioned by New Art Exchange.
The jury of Turner Prize praised Anderson as an outstanding British painter whose art speaks to our current political moment with questions about identity and belonging. Growing up between two cultures, Anderson – a Birmingham-born artist of Jamaican heritage – uses painting to explore cultural meanings, nuanced identities and our fragile sense of belonging. Situated in a space where figurative meets abstract, his art is poetic, reflective, and inspired by fragmented memories of unresolved spaces.
Skinder Hundal CEO and Melanie Kidd, Director of Programmes, New Art Exchange, explain the significance of Dub Versions to the Nottingham-based gallery.
“We’re incredibly proud of and excited for Hurvin Anderson, and it is has been an honour to have supported this important artist through his recent exhibition and commission. As well as his masterful use of colour and composition, Hurvin explores important issues of dislocation, race and identity – issues at the heart of New Art Exchange’s ethos and vision. Hurvin Anderson has worked patiently over the years and he so deserves this prestigious recognition; we are very happy for him.”
Dub Versions featured new and existing works, including developments in his much celebrated Peter’s series (Barbershop) and Grafting series, as well as a range of sketches and preparatory materials – paintings, collages, drawings – never displayed before in the UK. These materials provided a fascinating insight into Anderson’s forensic making process, where seemingly fluid and spontaneous abstract images are carefully constructed through a vigorous analysis process. A notable exhibition for the arts sector, Dub Versions also reached audiences local to New Art Exchange in the inner-city neighbourhood of Hyson Green, home to many different migrant communities over the last 70 years.
The new commission, Is It Okay To Be Black, marked an exciting progression in Anderson’s career, revisiting his renowned Barbershop series but leading it in a compelling new direction. The provocative question, “is it ok to be black?” reveals the musings of a hypothetical barbershop customer who is surrounded by the owner’s curated assortment of iconic portraits: from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. In the mirrored barbershop, one’s own reflection becomes mounted among heroes, questioning a personal sense of cultural identity in relation to history. Since its showcase at New Art Exchange, the painting entered the Arts Council Collection, joining the UK’s widest seen collection of influential modern and contemporary British artists.
Jill Constantine, Head of the Arts Council Collection said:
“Hurvin Anderson is one of our most important and accomplished artists working in the UK today. Working with New Art Exchange last year we were delighted to have the opportunity to commission the painting ‘Is It Okay To Be Black?’ from Hurvin as part of our 70th Anniversary celebrations. The painting was first shown as part of his exhibition at New Art Exchange last year and includes elements his earlier barbershop paintings with images of key figures in black history, referencing the complexity of cultural history and race relations.”
Image credit: Hurvin Anderson, Is It Ok To Be Black? (2016), courtesy of the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, London