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Indepth Arts News:

"A Unique Journey through the Extraordinary Career of Jeffrey Harris"
2006-03-24 until 2006-06-25
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
Christchurch, , NZ New Zealand (Aotearoa)

The work of Jeffrey Harris is admired and collected by public institutions and private enthusiasts throughout New Zealand and overseas. Strange, beautiful, intense, the art of Jeffrey Harris showing at Christchurch Art Gallery is a high-pressure zone.  Opening Friday, 24 March this touring exhibition from Dunedin Public Art Gallery is the first chance Christchurch audiences have had to experience Harris’s painted worlds in depth. “Reaching from razor-sharp etchings to jewel-like icons, from vast, sumptuous triptychs to a group of unflinching recent self-portraits, the show highlights major themes and key episodes from Harris’s 35 years of art-making,” says exhibition curator, Justin Paton.

“Lost loves, charged encounters and moments of high emotion are among the best-known subjects of this Dunedin-based painter.”

Since his last survey exhibition at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 1981, however, Harris has pushed toward new thresholds of scale, colour and graphic force.

Among the highlights of the exhibition are a group of paintings from Harris’s renowned and rarely-seen Icon series, several groups of prints made in collaboration with Australian master printer John Loane, and several of the large, blazingly coloured multi-panel paintings that Harris made in the mid-1980s. Bringing the prints and paintings of his Australian years (the 1990s) into focus for the first time, this exhibition also includes the recent Wallace Award-winning series From Dream. What unites all of the works is Harris’s faith in painting as, in his words, “a condensation of experience and intensity”.

Jeffrey Harris was born in Akaroa in 1949. A self-taught artist, he has painted full-time since 1970. He went from Christchurch to Dunedin in 1969, encouraged by Michael Smither and Ralph Hotere, and was Frances Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago in 1977. Harris is well known in New Zealand for his intensely detailed and seemingly angst-ridden works of the 1970s and first half of the 1980s. A prominent figure in New Zealand art of that time, Harris moved to Australia in the later 1980s and spent a decade there, working through an uncompromising series of black-and-white abstract paintings. In 2000 Harris departed Australia and returned to Dunedin. In the works he has made since then, figures have returned with a vengeance.

Jeffrey Harris
Head with Cross (Self-portrait),
1998 – 2003,
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery

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