Sargent’s Daughters is pleased to present Nightshift, an exhibition of paintings by English artist David Harrison. The exhibition will open on Friday, September 16th and be on view through Sunday, October 30th, 2016. The artist will be present at the opening reception on Friday, September 16th from 6-8pm. This will be Harrison’s first New York solo show since 2008.
Harrison’s work draws on both natural and urban themes. Born into a heavily bombed part of London’s post-war East End, the artist is both inspired by and aghast at the surroundings he has witnessed transformed by increasing gentrification and over-development, processes in which the most vibrant parts of the culture are bypassed and neglected. The artist draws on sources from outside the conventional and focuses on what is often overlooked, pushed now to the margins of society. Drawing on a rich vocabulary of myth, history and symbol to create a singular lexicon, his work quickens our perceptions of the everyday, sharpening our dulled senses with an acute lens. This interpretation of his surroundings, though it may appear at first fantastical, is emphatically Harrison’s reality, in which historical, imaginary and existing figures and landscapes collide.
In Nightshift we are invited into Harrison’s narrative, in which the mutability of reality is paramount. Animals become humans under the watchful eye of the moon; humans become augmented creatures under the precise knife of the surgeon, and love, death and rebirth cycle constantly around us. The boundary between one world and another is least substantial at night, when the solid shapes of daytime waver and people and animals transform into otherworldly creatures. In “Stalked Men” portraits we see, from odd angles, the Turkish taxi drivers who fascinate Harrison. His depictions of these urban ferrymen exude an atmosphere of predatory sexuality suggestive of the illicit moonlit encounter at the same time as they draw the viewer into ambiguous psychological depths. “Cosmetic Witches”, meanwhile, are frightful apparitions, accompanied by their owl and frog “familiars” and exuding the banal beauty of plastic transformation. Death and sex are never far from each other in Harrison’s work, in which something that is repulsive can often be beautiful.
Nature is paramount to Harrison, and though threatened by the ever-advancing army of mankind, the natural world always triumphs. “And None Shall Reign There” features a lean heron watching the sinking tumble of London’s modern glass buildings under a fiery sky, its feet firmly planted in the fens in implicit promise that, long after we are gone, the natural world will rise again.
Born in 1954, David Harrison lives and works in London. Harrison's works have been exhibited at venues including TRAMPS, London (2014), 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).
This exhibition is presented in collaboration with Victoria Miro Gallery, London.