What are we looking at?
The Fur Coat: ‘Hazana’ is a three-metre tall painting telling the story of the second marriage of the artist’s mother, Madeleine Dupont – seen through Green’s eyes as her teenage only child. The picture shows the house where Madeleine and Stanley Joscelyne lived after they were married. They named it Hazana, meaning “achievement” in Spanish, which Madeleine was learning at the time. Green made most of the painting during the decade following Madeleine’s death in 2005, but salvaged her head from a painting made in 1963, which he later destroyed. All the work in the current exhibition – three-dimensional works, drawings, watercolours, documents and photographs – relate to The Fur Coat: ‘Hazana’.
What’s going on in the picture?
In the lower part of the painting, the figure of Madeleine projects slightly, making the work three-dimensional; her scarf, handbag and fur coat (a gift from Stanley, and considered the height of luxury in post-war Britain) are real objects, not painted. The upper part of the painting is a bedroom scene – in which Stanley does a headstand in his underwear while Madeleine reclines naked on the bed. By juxtaposing this funny, private scene against his depiction of Madeleine’s public persona, the artist creates a strange and uncomfortable image.
Why the unusual shape?
The irregular shape of The Fur Coat: ‘Hazana’ is typical of Anthony Green’s work. If the images in his mind are not contained within rectangles, he asks, why should the pictures he paints be? Over time, the shapes of his paintings have become increasingly complex. More recently he’s also painted on freestanding structures (examples can be seen in the exhibition).