We are delighted to present inside out, Sam Harrison's first project at Jonathan Smart Gallery. There is a beautiful rhythm of reading to these works placed carefully and elegantly across both galleries of Buchan St. Handsome in their frames, big woodcuts and charcoal drawings punctuate the space, with three small cast bronzes positioned between. The format is largely portrait, or of the body, which is appropriate given that the serpentine grace of the intestinal bag is the starting point for the new work here.
This is particularly true of the charcoal drawings. Up close, form dissolves behind dense veil-like lines. The charcoal is allowed to sing. It is lush, it is thick and at times it explodes and spits. At distance, the smooth forms of gut are revealed. So, this mark-making revels in touch and repetitive process, not mere description.
The same should be said of the woodcuts, except that their rendering involves lines horizontal, not vertical. The block is ply, which adds its own grain to the visual mix – a half tone helpful in this quiet reveal of subject whether in exquisite detail or from a viewpoint further back. Each woodcut is a different colour. The big triptych is an earthy red, more forest floor than membranous gut bag, whilst the quiet gold of woodcut 1 resonates with the grain of its frame and the polished bronze close to it.
Finally, there are two Akeldama works presented in the back gallery. These are the fields of blood. Vertical lines of sheep's blood trickle down big sheets of paper. They are moving works. And importantly, they were the springboard for Harrison's use of charcoal in this exhibition. Exploring the visceral is important in Harrison's practice, as is the notion of skin - both literally and materially - of getting beneath the skin and bringing the inside out, evocatively and poetically.
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.