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Harold Ancart’s Playable Art Installed at Cadman Plaza Park

An 18th Century English poet Alexander Pope once said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”. Applying this in his artistic career field and pointing out to a particular art piece of his, one Harold Ancart says that “Nothing wrong can really happen unless you have a lot of expectations. If you don’t have expectations things can only be the way they are, which is right”. Interestingly, this, led to the creation of a public art installation, which was inspired by New York City’s more than 2000 handball courts.

On May 1st 2019, Public Art Fund unveiled a ‘meant to be interactive’– public – painted sculpture at Cadman Plaza Park in Downtown Brooklyn. The sculptural work by the Brooklyn-based, Belgian artist Ancart, alludes the abstraction composition that usually becomes visible when the handball courts are damaged, then repaired and repainted overtime. According to the fund’s associate curator Daniel S Palmer, the idea makes the painting visible, in that the sculpture’s surfaces possess some abstraction by showing different colors of paint on different layers, “When they’re repaired to fix over graffiti, this is typically done in a way that produces a vernacular painting. Often times, the city’s paints don’t exactly match the original colour and texture of the paints that had been on the wall for quite some time.”

Titled ‘Subliminal Standard’, the four-part painting with two walls and two leveled floors, standing 16-foot-tall and 26-foot-wide had been in Cadman Plaza Park for several weeks before its unveiling, where Ancart hand-painted it.

The artist who has for a long time now been exploring the history of handball as inspiration for his art, was strongly attracted to the art forms on the surfaces of the handball courts as well as the game itself. The game, was popular during the 20th Century and was pioneered by immigrants and the working class where only a ball and a wall was required. Palmer also says that “Ancart was also inspired by murals and mural painting, as a visual correlative. It’s about bringing the beauty directly to the people, without the need of visiting a museum or paying lots of money to see art in the private collection”.

We could say it is a ‘dream come true’ for the artist as ‘Subliminal Standard’ is his most ambitious work so far, which he uses the colors to describe “I came up with something on the floor that is kind of close to the sky and when it’s sunny it becomes super flashy blue. The colors are inspired by the natural and built environment around the site”.

The sculpture is however not limited to handball as a sport but is also about creating space for social interaction. Curator Palmer says “It is a place for others to be in dialogue as participants actively engage with painting by immersing themselves in it”. Both the artist and curator hope that the installation will be of multiple uses to the public.

‘Subliminal Standard’ will be on display through March 1st, 2020.

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