David Harrison (Painting, 2000)Fragile Existance2010

David Harrison

Fellow in 2000 for Painting

David Harrison’s works expand the languages of contemporary painting and sculpture, drawing into play parts of the culture which are forgotten, buried, discarded or disregarded. The artist employs all that has lain outside of the mainstream of modern art – age-old symbols and fanciful myth, irrational beliefs, traditional genres like landscape, exuberant sexuality, barbed wit, and wonder at the natural world – in order to speak vividly about our own time, and to revivify the disciplines of painting and sculpture.

The artist’s paintings give shape to a complete imaginative world akin to those of earlier Romantic visionaries, with a cast of animals and figures drawn from myths, legends, modern-day politics and from his own biography alike. Such characters might seem to exist at the outer reaches of our ordinary sensory thresholds, as though momentarily illuminated by Harrison’s vivid powers of description. Though in his imagined world, each species struggles to co-exist with mankind, nature is unbowed. Animal life always maintains the upper hand, even when mankind’s avarice threatens everything else.

The artist’s sculptures, shaped from cheap, prosaic materials like Sellotape along with detritus recovered from the city, present us with symbolic figures from the past, from myth, or from fiction. They embody either man’s tragic folly or nature’s wisdom and life-force, by literally embodying our throw-away society and its effects upon the natural world. Harrison’s dexterity with such materials allows each object, despite its humble origins, to possess an alarming, talismanic potency, and an iconic simplicity.

Born in 1954, David Harrison lives and works in London. The artist’s works have been exhibited at venues including TRAMPS, London (2017 and 2014), Sargent’s Daughters, New York (2016), VeneKlasen/Werner, Berlin (2012), Vilma Gold, London (2012 and 2003), Daniel Reich Gallery, New York (2008), Galeria OMR, Mexico City (2007), the Arts Centre St. Petersburg, Florida (2005), Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland (2005), The Whitechapel Gallery, London (2006 and 2004), Whitechapel Project Space, London (2004 and 2003), Bloomberg Space, London (2004) and Cubitt Gallery, London (2001). He is represented by Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK (exhibiting 2015, 2010, 2009 and 2005). David Harrison’s monograph was published by Philip Wilson Publishers in 2009, this book includes an introduction by architectural historian Lucinda Lambton, an interview with the artist conducted by his contemporary Peter Doig, and a study of his motifs and methods by curator Alistair Robinson.