Photographs by Nicole Page-Smith
JEFFREY HARRIS, famous for his first exhibition, in the Otago Museum, foyer, in 1969, a history museum, in Dunedin, New Zealand, has enjoyed an illustrious career only to revisit the very town that initially made him famous with his current exhibition of small paintings called "Renaissance Days", held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Other, career highlights, included, a contribution to "The Carnegie International", in 1982, in Pittsburgh, an American exhibition, similar to the Venice Biennale, in Italy or Documenta, in Germany, where, Jeffrey Harris, exhibited alongside other great names, such as, Antoni Tapies and David Hockney.
Jeffrey Harris moved to Melbourne, Australia, in 1986 where, Harris remained until late 2000. Jeffrey Harris continued with a figurative style from the late sixties until the late eighties, exhibiting regularly in the private and public sector and also traveling to Europe and America. Whereas, earlier figurative work, of Jeffrey Harris, fits well with the references of other New Zealand artists like Colin McCahon, who also referenced Italian Renaissance painting, the figurative work of Jeffrey Harris, from the eighties, reminds us, of the expressive style of contemporary German and American art of that time. Anslem Kiefer and Enzo Cucchi, were other artists, Jeffrey Harris, showed alongside, in The Carnegie International, exhibition.
From the late eighties, Jeffrey Harris, developed his technique to involve a series where, the figuration was generally replaced by landscape and abstraction. Hundreds of drawings and prints continued with several more abstracted series of paintings, involving some very spiritual, landscape paintings, reminiscent of the American artist, Rothko. These continued with a black and white series using thick, impasto, paint and although, very individual, refer to the American, artist, Philip Guston, especially reminding us of his earlier abstract paintings along with the impasto technique of the German, Brittish, artist, Franck Auerbach.
Jeffrey Harris returned to Dunedin, New Zealand, in late 2000 and a return to figuration had started a couple of years before his departure from Melbourne, Australia, to Dunedin. The figurative series developed into very large canvases that won credibility in an art prize taking, Jeffrey Harris, on a three month residency, to London. The current exhibition of small paintings, on board, enjoy reference to many long hours having been spent at, The National Gallery, in London, where there is a large Italian Renaissance painting collection. Jeffrey Harris was also privileged enough to visit Northern and Italian Renaissance painting collections and exhibitions in Germany, Belgium and France, with several trips to follow, along with Italian Renaissance painting throughout Italy.
The current small series of Jeffrey Harris, paintings, now showing, in an solo exhibition called "Renaissance Days", in Dunedin, New Zealand, have the later portrait paintings referring to Albrecht Durer and Antonello da Messina. Exhibitions of both Durer and Messina were enjoyed by Harris on recent trips through Germany and Italy. A catalogue of the Jeffrey Harris, "Renaissance Days", exhibition, is due for release, shortly, with a more detailed appraisal.