Art. Damian Harris in Waterworks

in photo: BANGALOW 1 (2009) acrylic on canvas, 122 x 92 cm  – Flyer design by Jenny McClatchey:


the invitation and information sheet about:

WATERWORKS the first solo exhibition by Sydney-based artist Damian Harris, presented by Jonathan Turner. 

Based on recent paintings of water in different moods. the show opens next  Friday night, March 9. Vientiane, corner Oxford Street and South Dowling Street in Paddington, 5.30-7.30.  The show runs through April 7, 2012 Please contact me with any queries.

Jonathan Turner, curator 0437 379415ù

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Damian Harris – Waterworks. Recent paintings, curated by Jonathan Turner – Exhibition opening: Friday, March 9, 2012 – Vientiane Gallery, Sydney, Australia

Exhibition runs through April 7, 2012

This exhibition, the first solo show by Sydney-based artist Damian Harris (born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1964), focuses on the ways in which water refracts light, reflects beauty and distorts realism. His earlier expressionistic, graffiti-inspired canvases have recently made a stylistic shift towards images of greater realism, although these are often distorted by shimmering reflections and water-ripples. The light flashes off the surface of lakes, streams and oceans.  Some of his canvases are calmly contemplative, while others are characterized by lush, sinuous line-work.

Harris covers the whole surface of each canvas with detail, sometimes recalling eastern calligraphy, or what the artist calls “my experiments with impressionism.” Water is shown as a constantly changing  surface, variously depicting reflections of a wooden pier in Queensland,  an overhanging  tree in Sydney’s Centennial park, the rippling effects caused by a platypus coming up for air in a Tasmanian stream, the surge of an ocean swell, or the hedonism of a friend swimming underwater in a pool on a summer’s weekend.

“These paintings are not so much about place, but about looking at water, zooming in on the abstract surface and reflections,” says Harris. “In contemporary art, landscape is not boring, it’s not banal. But sometimes it’s a technical struggle, to correctly paint the sense of flow. I want to challenge the conservative attitude of traditional landscape painting. I paint using images taken with a digital camera, helping me Buy Viagra to discover details that might not be immediately obvious to the naked eye. When water is moving, you don’t grasp many of its intricacies and shapes. So, to get my priorities right, I have to stop, stand back, and look at nature. Maybe it’s a reaction to the information age, to try to find something exceptional in water, an ordinary, basic element.”

For the past few years, Harris has concentrated on landscapes and portraits, with many paintings of his friends from Australia’s acting and musical worlds, including Chrissie Amphlett, Nicholas Eadie, John Howard (the actor, not the ex-P.M.), Garry Scale, Carol Skinner and Oscar-nominated Jacki Weaver, and his series of portraits of the Dalai Lama as a small boy, standing uncertainly in oversized, warm clothes. But Harris simultaneously creates works in different techniques and styles, in several artistic languages. His primitive, expressionistic canvases, peopled by stick-figures and graffiti-style slogans are his comment on urban life and the human condition. He takes on a different discipline in his textual pieces, a sort of “anti-branding” composed of altered business logos and cryptic social phrases – Home A Loan, Mess Age, Passive Fist, Sleepworking.

“Both politically and economically, some things are wrong, right now,” says Harris. “These small phrases and new words are my mini-protests on canvas. “

Harris’s Waterworks have a more subtle conceptual edge. “I also look at the visual impact beyond the natural representation of water. The way it suggests other things than what it really is, like when you look at clouds and see the shapes of animals and other objects. Or all the bizarre shapes made by the reflections of overhanging tree-branches on a late afternoon, with hardly any wind, and a surface like silk.”

Mixing hard-edge with soft focus, Damian Harris paints the connection between two ways of looking, both realism and abstraction, capturing the flatness of water as a surface full of movement and vitality.


Vientiane Gallery

Shop 1A, 1-11 Oxford Street, Paddington. Sydney Australia.

Vientiane opening hours: Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm, Mon-Sat 6.30pm-9.30 pm.

Exhibition runs through April 7

Facebook: Vientiane Gallery  –  tel: 02 93807414