'Poems are like sentences that have taken their clothes off.' Marlene Dumas' poetic and sensual refrain accompanies her figurative watercolours on view in Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life, the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in the southern state of Kerala, India (12 December 2018–29 March 2019).Dumas' new series...
The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...
On the rooftop of the former Rio Hotel complex in Colombo, it was hard to ignore the high-rise buildings, still under construction, blocking all but a sliver of what used to be an open view over Slave Island, once an island on Beira Lake that housed slaves in the 19th century, and now a downtown suburb. The hotel was set alight during the...
The artist and writer Harland Miller (born 1964) is known for his large-scale, playful reworkings of Penguin book covers. Miller takes much-loved book jackets of classic works by Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Edgar Allen Poe and others as his starting point. By rendering them in oils at poster size with quirky new titles, he transforms them into contemporary, often satirical commentaries on life and literature. Whether ironic, nostalgic, or downright cheeky – Dirty Northern Bastard, by DH Lawrence, or I'm so Fucking Hard, by Hemmingway – the titles demythologise and amuse in equal measure.
Harland Miller is attracted to books as objects – the more battered, stained and lived in the better. "I remember my parents' Penguin books. For me, they are about nostalgia for a by-gone era – that musty smell, those coffee-mug rings, the often heart-breaking inscriptions on the inside cover."
Miller has lived and worked in New York, Berlin, Paris and London. Born in the North of England in 1964, Miller's fondness for the drizzle and grimness of those northern towns remains a strong theme in his work. "I suppose mine is a very English sense of humour," he says.
In this rare display of his watercolours and drawings, Miller's Penguin covers are closer to still life studies, rather than two-dimensional posters. Experimenting with different paper sizes and angles, he occasionally shows their spines, and the shadows they cast. It is a celebration of books as treasured objects. His drawings – in particular his studies for his large-scale oil paintings with their notes scribbled down the margins – are some of his most intimate works to date.
Group exhibitions include Fools Rain, ICA, London, 1996, Direct Painting, Kunsthalle, Mannheim, 2004, Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005, 2006, and The Sculpture in the Close, Jesus College, Cambridge, 2013. Solo exhibitions include Don't Let the Bastards Cheer You Up, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, 2009, The Next Life's On Me, White Cube Hoxton Square, London, 2012, Wherever You Are Whatever You're Doing This One's For You, Reflex Amsterdam, NL, 2013, and Tonight We Make History (P.S. I Can't Be There), Blain|Southern Berlin, DE, 2016.
Harland Miller's works switch between being sardonic, hilarious and nostalgic as his own phrases replace the original titles of Penguin books.
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