NAE first presented Hurvin Anderson's work in our 2012 exhibition I Is Another, a group show which marked 50 years of Jamaica's independence from the UK. This summer we explore Anderson's practice in depth through a solo exhibition of both existing and newly commissioned works, along with a host of materials that create a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Anderson's forensic making process. This element includes sketches and preparatory paintings, collages, drawings and photographs, never displayed before in the UK.
Born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents, the focus of Anderson's work often stems from his experiences growing up within Birmingham's African-Caribbean community in the 1970s and 80s, and his time spent living in Trinidad as an artist in residence. As such, his work engages with charged social histories, notions of cultural identity and themes of memory, place and time.
Anderson typically creates works in series, and moves backwards and forwards within his own collections, returning to subjects, memories and settings that continue to intrigue him. The pieces presented in Dub Versions, grew out of a re-investigation into two previous bodies of works; the first, a series depicting Anderson's brother scrumping for fruit, and the second, illustrations of domestic barbershops, a cottage industry taken up by many newly arrived Caribbean immigrants in the 1950s. For Anderson, these moments and spaces provoked questions of how personal and perceived identities continue to shift as time and place changes, particularly in the context of the Black-British experience. He describes the act of painting and drawing as a way of seeing, so in Dub Versions, he returns to these settings, taking them apart and adding new layers, to look again and reveal more about the world in which we live.
At the heart of the exhibition is the new painting, Is It Okay To Be Black? (2016). This piece has been acquired by Arts Council, England's National Collection, joining 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists representing the most important and influential British artists from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. Dub Versions has been supported by Thomas Dane Gallery.