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DAMIAN PAUL HARRIS This exhibition at Vientiane Gallery, the first solo show by Tasmanianborn, Sydney-based artist Damian Harris, focuses on the ways in which water refracts light, reflects beauty and distorts realism. His earlier expressionistic, graffiti-inspired canvases have made a stylistic shift towards images of greater realism, although these are often distorted by shimmering reflections and water-ripples. The light flashes off the surface of lakes, streams and oceans. Some of his canvases are calmly contemplative, while others are characterized by lush, sinuous line-work. Harris covers the whole surface of each canvas with detail, sometimes recalling eastern calligraphy, or what the artist calls “my experiments with impressionism.” Water is shown as a constantly changing surface, variously depicting reflections of a wooden pier in Queensland, an overhanging tree in Sydney’s Centennial park, the rippling effects caused by a platypus coming up for air in a Tasmanian stream, the surge of an ocean swell, or the hedonism of a friend swimming underwater in a pool on a summer’s weekend. “These paintings are not so much about place, but about looking at water, zooming in on the abstract surface and reflections,” says Harris. “In contemporary art, landscape is not boring, it’s not banal. But sometimes it’s a technical struggle, to correctly paint the sense of flow. I want to challenge the conservative attitude of traditional landscape painting. I paint using images taken with a digital camera, helping me to discover details that might not be immediately obvious to the naked eye. When water is moving, you don’t grasp many of its intricacies and shapes. So, to get my priorities right, I have to stop, stand back, and look at nature. Maybe it’s a reaction to the information age, to try to find something exceptional in water, an ordinary, basic element.”

pr esented by Jonathan Tur ner MEDIA RELEASE For the past few years, Harris has concentrated on landscapes and portraits, with many paintings of his friends from Australia’s acting and musical worlds, including Chrissie Amphlett, Nicholas Eadie, John Howard (the actor, not the ex-P.M.), Garry Scale, Carol Skinner and Oscar-nominated Jacki Weaver, and his series of portraits of the Dalai Lama as a small boy, standing uncertainly in oversized, warm clothes. But Harris simultaneously creates works in different techniques and styles, in several artistic languages. His primitive, expressionistic canvases, peopled by stick-figures and graffiti-style slogans are his comment on urban life and the human condition. He takes on a different discipline in his textual pieces, a sort of “anti-branding” composed of altered business logos, typography and cryptic social phrases – Home A Loan, Mess Age, Passive Fist, Sleepworking. “Both politically and economically, some things are wrong, right now,” says Harris. “These small phrases and new words are my mini-protests on canvas”. Harris’s Waterworks have a more subtle conceptual edge. “I also look at the visual impact beyond the natural representation of water. The way it suggests other things than what it really is, like when you look at clouds and see the shapes of animals or other objects. Or all the bizarre shapes made by the reflections of overhanging tree-branches on a late afternoon, with hardly any wind, and a surface like silk.” Mixing hard-edge with soft focus, Damian Harris paints the connection between two ways of looking, incorporating both realism and abstraction, capturing the flatness of water as being a surface full of movement and vitality. Jonathan Turner

Exhibitions Solo show 2012 Waterworks - Vientiane, Sydney Group shows 2011 Flood Relief – Blackwattle Café, Glebe, Sydney 2009 Reflections of Australia - Hongrun Huaxia Hotel, Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China 2006 The Dunlop Ping-Pong Project Blank Space Gallery, Sydney 2005 Guttersnipe Project - Kings Cross Library, Sydney 1996 Group Show – Tap Gallery, Sydney 1987 Drawing - Centre for the Arts, Hobart, Tasmania

Born 1964 in Hobart, Tasmania. Lives and works in Sydney. Education Tasmanian School of Art - Bachelor of Fine Art 1985-87 Studio residency Gasworks, Albert Park, Melbourne 1990-91 Worked in the animation industry 1993-2001, with advertisements created for KFC, Bodalla, Kelloggs, Streets Ice-cream, CocaCola, Clearasil, Sanitarium, Claratyne and Arnotts; children’s TV series including Crocadoo, Bananas in Pyjamas, Petals, Lucky Lydia and Mr Baby; the movie All Dogs go to Heaven (part 2): the music video Gorillas, and the independent project Tod and Tom.

Vientiane Shop 1A, 1-11 Oxford Street, Paddington (corner South Dowling Street and Oxford Street, opposite the Beauchamp Hotel) Vientiane opening hours: Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm, Mon-Sat 6.30pm-9.30 pm. Exhibition runs through April 7 Vientiane - Experience Lao cuisine Facebook: Vientiane Gallery/Restaurant Tel: 02 93807414

EXHIBITION OPENING Friday, March 9, 2012 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm Exhibition runs through April 7, 2012 BANGALOW 1 (2009) acrylic on canvas,

122 x 92 cm

Flyer design by Jenny McClatchey:

Media release  
Media release  

the invitation and information sheet about: WATERWORKS the first solo exhibition by Sydney-based artist Damian Harris, presented by Jonathan...