What Means Light
Paola Cabal’s installation for The Arts Club of Chicago begins with the observation of light. Eight reflective and illuminated towers portray the visible shifts in the garden’s light and color spectrum throughout the day. Over the course of 11 hours in the spring of 2019, Cabal positioned herself on St. Clair street across from The Arts Club garden and recorded the passing sun on the brick façade. On alternate days, she set herself up in the interior and watched the same scene from the other side. This exacting, durational activity on her part facilitates an avenue of thought about the cultural meanings of light and darkness that have now come up against an intensified cultural context as the country faces a pandemic and calls for racial justice. Cabal expresses her questions in philosophical terms: “What means light? Since when has light been equated with virtue? Who will we be when the viral threat recedes? Who will we be in the wake of a ferocious wave of awakening to inequity? Who will get to the other side alive? By what means?” To observe is to understand, she further explains. And if Cabal’s thoughtful engagement attests to her powers of observation, then these carefully placed towers point toward the subtleties of vision that lead to clarity of understanding.
The lush, overdetermined spaces in Hurvin Anderson’s new paintings reference touristic sites of simultaneous development and dereliction in Jamaica, his ancestral home. Departing from photographs taken during a visit in 2017, the paintings and drawings on view elaborate the artist’s process of abstraction, moving between motif and surface, landscape and color field. Anderson takes the title for this exhibition Anywhere but Nowhere from a song by K.C. White and suggests that the landscape he seeks in such travel is at once commonplace and elusive. Born in the United Kingdom as a member of the Jamaican diaspora, Anderson relates to the Caribbean as both insider and outsider, aware of the mythmaking that the idea of lost or future paradise generates, and of the irony of expansive development in the face of neglect.
In this new series of paintings, Anderson trains his eye on a section of wall from a seemingly insignificant building that is being overtaken by foliage. Working and reworking the composition in multiple sketches, transparencies and paintings, he invites introspection, as well as recognition of the destructive factors at work in such marked locations in the natural environment. For the exhibition at The Arts Club of Chicago, Anderson pairs this new work with earlier paintings from his acclaimed Barbershop series, for which he won a nomination for the Turner Prize in 2017; the two series share methodology as well as impulse. They unravel detail into mapped terrains of color, while pointing toward a search for Utopian spaces among diasporic communities in both urban and natural environments.
Hurvin Anderson (b. 1965, Birmingham, United Kingdom) lives and works in London. He studied at Wimbledon School of Art and Royal College of Art, London. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 2017, Anderson’s work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide. Selected solo exhibitions include Foreign Body, Michael Werner Gallery, New York, USA (2016); Backdrop, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada (2016); Dub Versions, New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK (2016); Backdrop, CAM, St.Louis, USA (2015); Reporting Back, IKON Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2013); Subtitles, Michael Werner Gallery, New York, USA (2011); and ART NOW: Hurvin Anderson, Tate Britain, London, UK (2009).