Santa Fe, NM, United States
About Patrick Harris
The paintings are a kind of ‘social speech’ - addressing disorder, degradation, folly and similar themes. The work was very colorful until this year. I then decided to mollify the visual impact generated by color and now paint with a palette of black, white and robin’s egg blue. The earlier, brightly colored works emphasized content by using a cinematic arrangement, placing multiple canvases in sequential order, like a zoetrope. One sequential painting, Mother’s Milk (1995), is a landscape in the shape of a Guernsey cow, all its milk draining out in nine panels. Prior to 1998, the cinematic paintings were impasto and over an inch thick. After 1998, I shifted the paintings’ material substance from thick to thin. The ‘thin’ works explored seemingly preternatural elements in our daily lives and focused spiritual and intellectual compression. Oedipus (2006) depicts a boy and mother at their private birthday party. Twins (2004) portray fraternal twins made-up as clowns. Mannequin heads resemble taxidermy in Spring (2006). The Pollock –Krasner Foundation provided critical financial support for this body of work, awarding a $20,000 grant in October of 2000. Ten years after, another set of works received support. These paintings comprised the ManTrap project, which examined themes of life and death on a small lake in northern Minnesota. A grant of $4,459 from United States Artists in Los Angeles funded this series during 2011. I am now creating a series of paintings that resemble flags. Some employ cruciform designs that are apparent when the painting is installed vertically, charging it with iconic symbolism. Lobster Flag (2013) is a white cross on green ground with barbed wire, an abstract lobster and silhouettes of Picasso on medallions. The lobster, barbed wire, medallions, and cross attempt to query the art of Picasso and Johns on issues of content. This questioning is amplified and expanded in a second painting, Black Egg Flag (2013), which includes a facsimile of Johns’ “Cups 2 Picasso” (1973). Other flag paintings include Bipolar Blue (2013) and Bipolar Red (2013). Polar bears are submersed in circles of blue water in Bipolar Blue while Bipolar Red represents the impact of global warming on Polar bear habitat. Two other paintings, Dodo Flag (2013) and Milk Flag (2013), directly reference “Flag” (1954) by Johns. A white, negative image of a dodo replaces the stars located in the canton area in Dodo Flag. In Milk Flag, a white, negative image of a Guernsey cow with a topographical map on its side displaces stars in the canton area of the flag. These paintings address concepts of empire, nationality, extinction and catalyze a parallel discussion with Johns’ “Flag” as a concomitant result. In 2014, I began to use the national flag of Greece as an element in the paintings. American society often points to the principles and philosphy of ancient Greece as a foundation and touchstone for contemporary civilization and this relationship is integral to the ideas in these paintings. Robin, Rain (2014) places a robin in the canton area and employs gray flag bars as rain, reducing water to an abstraction. In Reversible Robin (2014), the canton-area robin is flipped and flopped (“flip” is an editing term for turning a piece of footage upside down, while “flop” means to make the footage perspectively backwards). This editing technique is essential to the design of my current paintings. Flip and flop editing was effectively used in “Mapping the Studio II with color shift, flip, flop & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage) All Action Edit” by Bruce Nauman in 2001. In the current paintings, a Greek flag is painted in enamels with tape and rollers – a production method. The black, gray and white images in the canton areas are painted by hand in an ink wash technique similar to sumi painting. Deer, Wood, Sky reduces the sky to an abstraction amidst a forest of leafless trees. Black Polar Flag replaces the white (ice) bars in the flag with black bars, indicating a void.
M.F.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA 1981
B.S., South Dakota State University, USA 1977
Currently showing in a collective exhibition at Greg Bennett Contemporary, Palm Desert, CA.