Rebecca Harris

“We can call ‘beautiful’ only that which suggests the existence of an ideal order; supra-terrestrial, harmonious and logical that yet bears within itself, like the brand of an original sin, the drop of poison, the rogue element of incoherence, the grain of sand that will foul up the entire system.” – Charles Baudelaire

At first, Rebecca Harris' paintings might seem to represent an ironic commentary on grand traditions of Western and European Art.  Mannerism, Symbolism, Renaissance Portraiture or Surrealism, all appear to come to an agreement about the challenges and pleasures of sharing company with one another.

Certainly, in her most recent work, the portraits of 16th-century Mannerist, Guisepe Arcimboldo (1527- 1593), depicting the human body as a variety of vegetables, plants and flowers or the unsettling beauty of Odilon Redon Symbolist flower paintings (1840-1916) are points of reference.  Yet, it is not so much a connection to particular periods of European Art or Harris' awareness of the responsibilities that come with working within such traditions that are central to the experience of her work.  Rather, it is a more universal regard for revealing the gap between our certainty of the material world and the uncomfortable responses often associated with such experiences.

Harris' paintings remind us of an enduring abyss between reality and imagination.  Evident in Mannerist painting throughout the 16th century, pervasive in the heightened detail and colour of 19th century Victorian paintings and more recently in psychedelic posters from San Francisco in the 1960s.  In images that refuse to be narrowed by either place or time, Harris' art touches upon fundamental aspects of the nature of human behaviour.

Warren Feeney

 

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