When Felix Harris submitted work to Potroast, we were almost wracked by guilt over the fact that our publication was only able to offer to print them in black and white. It is with pleasure then, that we are able to present a showcase of some of Felix Harris’ recent work in its full vibrancy
Vibrancy is a good place to start a discussion of Felix’ work. Both formally and in terms of content, the paintings included today emanate with undeniable energy. The richness of palette, the eclectic, collaged composition and the simplicity of forms make the works instantly aesthetically striking. They vibrate with a visceral energy that is only compounded by the subject matter. Looking at ‘Heart ache’ (2010), the kinetic qualities and boldness of colour are instantly obvious, but they are layered with direct, grotesque and often humours allusions to sex and death. The breast-like mountains and phallic ice-cream cones and observant vaginas all take on a deeply personal, surreal tone, but stylistically seem to refer as much to Mexican Muralism as they do Surrealism.
Works such as ‘Rocky Road’ reflect this influence clearly with their colourful and energetic depictions of death, but it is the sense of allegory throughout Harris’ work that truly capture it. When we look at ‘Kahma’ there is clearly a kind of urban story being told. The figures seem to exist within some kind of city environment and compose a kind of complex culture. Yet the eclectic composition and subjects blur the intent and allow only hints towards this story-telling. This is further blurred with the introduction fantastical figures and with the introduction of religious iconography and an ambiguously moralising tone, seems to evoke the later works of Courbet as much as they do street art.
Yet, all this makes Felix’ paintings sound heavy and historical, when in fact it is quite the opposite that makes
them characteristically charming. Imbued with a very contemporary sense of self-awareness and a constant tone of parody and humour, the iconography is pulled away from heavy handedness into something that rings more true. It is the sense of something personal, but something that can equally mock itself without ego that makes Felix work so thoroughly enjoyable.
So dear readers and other citizens of the internet, it is without further ado that Potroast would like to present our showcase of the works of Felix Harris.
Felix currently has a show, Virtual Poporn, showing at the Gilberd Marriott Gallery in Wellington. See below for the invite.