Solo exhibition by British painter Hurvin Anderson arrives at AGO with works inspired by his experiences of the Caribbean

Public invited to attend free artist talk and reception on Wednesday, May 18 

TORONTO — Be it the lush tropical foliage of Trinidad, the sight of a container for a Jamaican patty or the hum of Birmingham’s living room barbershops, the subjects in British artist Hurvin Anderson’s large-scale paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs are bursting with colour and life, but they remain ever so slightly out of reach – seen behind fences, masked by decorative grills or encased in packaging. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) offers a glimpse into these scenes with Anderson’s first Canadian solo exhibition, opening on May 19, 2016Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop is the artist’s most comprehensive exhibition to date, featuring recent paintings alongside previously unseen sculpture, drawings and photography. Filling the entire fourth floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower, the exhibition runs until Aug. 21, 2016.

Anderson was born in Birmingham, England, to Jamaican parents. His source material often stems from early experiences in Birmingham’s black community as well as in Trinidad, where he became intimately familiar with the island’s landscape and motifs. Known for his distinct figurative painting style, he layers bright colours under hints of restraint, placing vague barriers between the viewer and the subject – such as the grill in 2005’s Welcome: Carib or the angular confines of the living room barbershop portrayed in Peter’s: Sitter III ( 2009).

Originally curated by Jeffrey Uslip, Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs / Chief Curator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the AGO’s installation is coordinated by Adelina Vlas, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art. According to Vlas, the exhibition’s title comes from a sense of displacement, and refers to the idea that being somewhere is very different from being from somewhere. “Hurvin Anderson’s paintings reflect on the many identities that can emerge from multiple influences on someone’s life. Their textured surfaces reveal the artist’s unique approach to distilling memory into a two dimensional object, like a painting,” Vlas says.

Less well-known than his paintings, Anderson’s sculptures explore the ties between familiar consumer brands and our sense of self. Juici and Mother’s Chicken (both 2006) reference restaurant chains in Jamaica that serve patties, a mainstay of traditional Caribbean cuisineand an important symbol of the artist’s youth. Andersonreplicates disposable food containers by hand-painting woodenboxes, creating an optical illusion that challengesnotions of mass production and the construction of racial stereotypes.

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, Anderson and Uslip will offer a free public talk on May 18, 2016 in Baillie Court. Tickets for the talk, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in the AGO’s Baillie Court, are free. Following the talk, there will be a public reception from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Walker Court.

The exhibition is accompanied by a soft cover 76-page illustrated book, featuring an introduction by Uslip and text by Duro Olowu. The book is available at shopAGO for $52.50. Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to pick up a free exhibition pamphlet featuring an interprative essay by Uslip.

Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop is included with the price of general admission and is free to AGO members. More information on the benefits of AGO membership can be found at


Born in Birmingham, UK in 1965, Hurvin Anderson lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Art Now: Hurvin Anderson, Tate Modern, London (2009), which traveled to the Studio Museum, Harlem, New York (2009). Recent exhibitions include New Works, Thomas Dane Gallery, London (2013), Reporting Back, IKON Gallery, Birmingham (2013), Subtitles, Michael Werner Gallery, New York (2011). Anderson has been included in group exhibitions at notable institutions including Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (2013) and the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery in England (2000).

Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop is organized by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

This exhibition is generously supported by:

Maxine Granovsky Gluskin and Ira Gluskin
Liza Mauer and Andrew Sheiner

Canada Council of the Arts

Support for the exhibition and its tour has been provided by Iris and Adam Singer, Phoenix; Anonymous; Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, Boston; Alexandra and Guy Halamish, London; Christen Sveaas, Oslo; Jimmy Jamieson, St. Louis; Lisa Schiff, New York; Larry Mathews and Brian Saliman, San Francisco; Thomas Dane Gallery, London; Michael Werner Gallery, New York; and the British Council. Major support for the exhibition has been provided by Iris and Adam Singer, Phoenix; Anonymous; Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, Boston; Alexandra and Guy Halamish, London; Christen Sveaas, Oslo; Jimmy Jamieson, St. Louis; Lisa Schiff, New York; Larry Mathews and Brian Saliman, San Francisco; Thomas Dane Gallery, London; Michael Werner Gallery, New York; and the British Council.

With a collection of more than 90,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’s masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002, Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to learn more.

Mar. 12 – May 29, 2016: Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s-1980s

July 1 – Sept. 11, 2016: The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris

Oct. 22, 2016 – Jan. 29, 2017: Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more

April 22 – July 30, 2017: Georgia O’Keeffe

Sept. 30, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018: Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters


The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners. 


For hi-res images and other press inquiries, please contact:

Andrea-Jo Wilson; Senior Communications Officer 
416-979-6660, ext. 403, [email protected]

Caitlin Coull; Manager, Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 364, [email protected]

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