The French Letter Paintings can be considered a paean to Harland Miller's time spent living in Paris as a young artist and writer during the 1990s, and to his interest in the narrative, aural and typographical possibilities of language.
Miller has said that 'the subject of and for my work over the last twenty years has been writing in all its forms and associations—both in terms of writing itself and a love of words—and books, that actual physical form in which written narrative, ideas and theory most commonly appear'. Following on from his well-known series of fictional book cover paintings, the 'letter' series begun with the idea of using a single word with just one or two syllables as a book title and as the focus for gestural abstraction.
With a nod to Charles Dickens, Miller wryly refers to his sojourn in Paris as 'the best of times and the worst of times': an emotional and artistic coming of age. Continuing this sense of dichotomy, the French Letter paintings manage to encompass a sense of the intimate with the universal, the poetic with the absurd. Synthesising multiple references drawn from both high and low culture, including the decorated, primary letters of medieval manuscripts to the super-sized, bold iconography of Pop, they use characteristic typefaces and procedures of isolating, overlaying and reconnecting, to simultaneously deconstructs and abstract language itself.
Press release courtesy White Cube.