Art & creativity  |  5 Nov 2019

Darkly elegant paintings and prints by contemporary artist Brent Harris will feature in his first Christchurch exhibition, Towards the Swamp.

The collection, which opens at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū on Wednesday and runs until 23 February next year, will include works that were gifted to the Gallery in 2018 and are being shown for the first time.

Senior curator Lara Strongman says Harris’ Swamp images represent the human body in motion, its gestures and desires.

Towards the Swamp is his first solo exhibition in a New Zealand public gallery.

“His artworks are inspired by his own deeply personal and sometimes painful experiences, but you’ll often see a vein of black humour running through his practice,” Dr Strongman says.

“Swamps are darkly fertile places where death and life co-exist, and where new life emerges from the traces of the old. In this sense, the Swamp is a metaphor for the human psyche, as well as a way to think about the starting point for creativity.”

Harris, a New Zealand-born Australian artist who grew up in Palmerston North, says his strongest childhood memories are of the Manawatu River, swollen with floodwaters and wild with floating tree trunks.

His artworks are created by a process than begins with automatic drawings – a way of working that allows the subconscious to rise to the surface – which are then progressively refined.

He received a Bachelor of Fine Art from Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts in 1984 and has had artist residencies in Singapore, Japan, and Paris as well as solo exhibitions throughout Australia.

  • Brent Harris: Towards the Swamp will be on display at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū from 6 November 2019 – 23 February 2020.