The work had came up for auction upon the demise of the original owner, who was an important, well respected supporter and collector of Thomas Anfield's work.
Thomas Anfield, Me Under the Table, acrylic on canvas, (c. 1995), 43 x 43 inches, signed Anfield front, lower centre
My client had purchased the painting and I was engaged to facilitate the appraisal for insurance purposes. Generally speaking, replacement cost, used to determine value for insurance purposes, the amount of money the client would need to replace the picture with a painting of similar size, medium and subject matter by the same artist.
On the back of the canvas in bold black lettering are the words Me Under the Table, and the artist's signature, Anfield, appears on the front, lower centre.
The title of the work, Me Under the Table derives from memories of childhood when as the young Anfield was fond of sitting under the family dining room table. Suggestions of table legs, floor surfaces, carpet, tablecloth and a loaf of bread form an illusionary space which invites the viewer to enter this voyeuristic other world. The placement of a central image of a stylized table leg may allude to a spiritual component as suggested by a crucifixion tableau.
The work references those recollections and in a more universal sense, suggests a whimsical association to "being under the table, as in I could drink you under the table. The piece could also be read as a visual metaphor for the constant struggle artists in our present day society contend with in an effort to secure their daily bread which is often above and perhaps just out of their reach.
In a conversation with the artist, Anfield mentioned that he viewed this piece as a very important precursor to his latest body of work, Paintings From the Invisible University, as it engaged some of the issues he is presently addressing, particularly those relating to memory and emotion.
In Mexico, Anfield had participated in several mural projects and was very impressed and influenced by the use of textures in the work of Mexican muralists, especially Rufino Tamayo.
This work is from the mid-1990s and the image size is approximately 43 x 43 inches. It is of acrylic on canvas with a textured ground created by adding sawdust into the middle layer of gesso. Gesso is the white primer used to prepare the canvas surface to receive and to separate the paint layer from the canvas to prevent the oils in oil-based paint from percolating into the canvas and eventually causing deterioration. It is also used to prime the canvas to receive an acrylic paint layer, however, due to the benign chemical composition of the binder (Rhoplex) used in acrylics, its separation properties are not as critical as in oil-based paints.
The addition of sawdust not only creates a textured ground but also reduces the reflective properties of the gesso by trapping more reflective light in the gesso layer, and thus helps to create the suggestion of a mural on a cementicious ground. Anfield's clever use of colour further helps to create the presence of a mural.
Next: The Case of being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams