In an alternate world, this exhibition of barbershop paintings by the Turner-nominated British painter Hurvin Anderson would hang out near Édouard Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882). In Manet’s tricksy, scintillating mood piece, a cabaret and its clientele are reflected in the grand-looking glass behind a well-primed bar. With its mirrored surfaces, doubled figures, disorienting depth, and foreground stocked with jostling bottles, Manet’s painting of nocturnal Paris at play is this exhibition’s honorary godfather.
The show’s title – Salon Paintings – does triple service. “Salon” was a gathering where fashionable bohemians fought over colour theory and absinthe. The “Salon” was the official art exhibition of the Paris Académie des Beaux Arts – in the 19th century, arguably the most prestigious painting show in the world. (Manet’s painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1882.) A “salon hang” indicates that paintings are shown in great concentration, crammed onto a gallery wall.