For Hurvin Anderson, the Barbershop Is Haven and Inspiration

In 2006, British artist Harvin Anderson painted the first barbershop scene. At Barbershop, reflections from mirrors above the worktop create a series of rectangular patterns that resemble an abstract painting. In the front, a slightly disheveled chair sits on his two legs, surrounded by slivers of hair, and the viewer sits next to it, as if the customer had just left.

The scene is based on a facility run by 58-year-old Anderson in his hometown of Birmingham. He has painted many times over the last ten and a half years and has likewise returned to many barbershops in London and Jamaica. Many of these works are open to the public on “” until November 5th.Harvin Anderson: Salon Paintingat Hepworth Wakefield, a museum in the north of England. (Anderson’s chosen name for the show refers to both a hair salon and a historical art exhibition in Paris.)

Nominated for the 2017 Turner Prize, Anderson has spent the past 25 years focused on portraying the space occupied by black people, particularly the Windrush generation, like her parents, who were encouraged to emigrate to Britain from the Caribbean. . After World War II, he helps rebuild the country. (This name refers to his HMT Empire, his Windrush, which carried passengers from the Caribbean to Britain in 1948.) He is also the youngest of eight children and the only one born in England. I also explored my own experiences living and growing up in the UK as a

When the Windrush generation first arrived, “Caribbean life in England was one identity inside the house and another outside,” he said in a recent interview at Hepworth. He was dressed casually in a white shirt and black trousers and had his long hair neatly styled. Tie it back into a ponytail. This was especially noticeable in the way interior spaces were decorated in the Caribbean, added Anderson. “They have a certain aesthetic that just seems to describe them.”

Anderson is also known for his striking landscape paintings based on different perceptions of the Caribbean, but more than any other subject, Anderson returned to the interior spaces of commercial black barbershops. He said he was fascinated by the beauty and charm of the space. How it works within the black community.

The Peters series, which began in 2007, is set in Peter Brown’s attic, which has been converted into a makeshift barbershop frequented by Anderson’s father. The painting explores how immigrants from the Caribbean used the house for gatherings from the 1950s to his ’60s. Because white barbers are often reluctant to cut black hair, it meant the community created its own space.

At first, Anderson described the interior of his barbershop as “somewhat chaotic,” and later, despite this seeming randomness, the space was managed in a peculiar way, most notably the posters on the walls. added that it was in

At the museum, Anderson’s oldest Barbershop painting hangs almost opposite his newest work, allowing visitors to see how the series has evolved.

In his recent work, Skiffle (2023), posters depict supporters of Jamaican political activist Marcus Garvey, who aspired to unite Africans around the world. Isabella Maidment, who co-produced the show with Eleanor Clayton, said in a recent telephone interview, “Beside it, you can see a man practicing karate.” He noted that it was a popular pastime among young black men in Britain.

In 2015, Anderson painted Is It Okay To Be Black? The title is based on the common barber phrase, “Is it okay if I go to the back?” In this composition, a turquoise barbershop wall is filled with posters, including a Martin Luther King Jr. and how the barber shop itself is openly discussed. politicized space.

“It’s one of the places where black men and women can talk freely, apart from home,” Ms. Anderson said.

“Barbershops are a safe place that every black man needs,” Tommy J. Curry, professor of philosophy and black men’s studies at the University of Edinburgh, said in a recent video interview. “It not only makes them look good, but it helps them cope emotionally and psychologically with the different things they face in the world.”

Curry added that black men in public gatherings in both the UK and the US are often demonized by others as threatening or dangerous.

The idea of ​​black barbershops as havens is found in popular culture. In 2002, Tim Story’s critically acclaimed film The Barbershop was adapted into a series. The store was centered on Chicago’s South Side, known for its large African-American population. In one scene, a man runs out of a barbershop for a job interview, then returns to pay, and the barber tells him to keep the money. “There’s this idea that black barbers understand that they’re helping their brothers go into a world that’s very hostile to them,” Curry said.

The Barbershop Chronicles by Nigerian playwright Inua Elams premiered at the National Theater in London in 2017. Set in Lagos, Johannesburg, Harare, Accra, Kampala and London on the same day, the play portrays barbershops as places where black men can take advantage and argue.

This same idea also drives real-world efforts to: barbers round chair project In North London, barbers are being trained to become mental health ambassadors for their communities, building on skills many barbers already have.

When Anderson began painting commercial barbershops, he was drawn to the large mirrors and the overall atmosphere of the place.

“Early paintings are like observing the space itself.

Over time, like 2023’s “Skiffle,” his relationship with the subject became about the store’s socio-political context and interior details.

“In the new painting, you are the customer, the viewer, the barber, and perhaps the painter,” he said. “The question gets even broader.”

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