Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Jeffrey Harris

Photographs by Nicole Page-Smith

Jeffrey Harris

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. 


Nicole Page-Smith 



Sunday, 29 November 2015

Jeffrey Harris in the Studio

Photography by Nicole Page-Smith

In 2004, Jeffrey Harris and his partner, Nicole Page-Smith, went on their first European vacation, together. The trip was the reward of a prestigious, New Zealand, contemporary art prize, donated to Jeffrey Harris, including a three month, London, residency. In the same year, Harris, saw the opening of a large, touring, retrospective, exhibition, established by the local council run gallery, in Dunedin. The New Zealand artist, Jeffrey Harris, won the contemporary art prize, for a large canvas, from a series of orange, black and white paintings, heavily, Francis Bacon, influenced, also reminding us of the emotional turmoil of Edvard Munch and the refined lines of the French Neoclassical painter, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, along with late Renaissance, Mannerist, painters such as Parmigianino, Jacopo Pontormo and, Bronzino. The pair travelled frequently to Europe over the next ten years, visiting museums of well established collections and exhibitions of Northern and Italian Renaissance artists such as Mantegna, Rogier van der Weyden, Durer, Zurbaran and Messina. During this time, until the present, Jeffrey Harris, has also, been working away, quietly, with several catalogue books from his vast reference library as background information. The small paintings, now on display at the same local council run gallery, in Dunedin, also refer to family photographs and fashion magazines, for a model. Some of the paintings require a Crucifix while others are more reminiscent of the Holy Family group. Often, portraiture for, Jeffrey Harris, has a blurred reference to self portraiture and the paintings seem aware of being self conscious. Several of the paintings are simply portrait heads of an unknown, ambiguous, source. Some of the small, very, refined, paintings have recently been exhibited, in a current exhibition, "Renaissance Days", now on display at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, in Dunedin, New Zealand, until the 20th of March, 2016.