Join us for the closing reception for "Buried Alive", a restrospective of works created by Artist James C. Harrison (1925 - 1990) spanning 4 decades. The stories behind Harrison's life and work are really present in the gallery through the essays, articles, sketchbooks and Harrison's own notes on his work. Come see the work of this undiscovered artist and help us to spread the word and perhaps go home with a piece!
Harrison culled sinister corners of his imagination and unconscious to capture the elusive subject matter of cosmic symbolism and mystical spirituality via automatist mark making. Primarily self-taught, the artist transplanted from Detroit to Brooklyn where jazz music and the psychoanalytic philosophies of Carl Jung greatly informed the artistic production of what he called, “paint-drawings.” Engaging with the formal legacies of New York Myth-Makers and Surrealists, Harrison’s work recalls the graphic marks of Cy Twombly, a close friend of Harrison’s, and Robert Rauschenberg, with an expressive figuration that resonates with the sketchy, androgynous figures of Jean Michel Basquiat.
The exhibition features such works as Buried Alive, in which a sinuous interweaving of line and color simultaneously obscure and reveal bodily limbs and faces. Oscillating between vibrant abstraction and scrawled figuration, the work’s palette of primary colors discords with the ominous title. Harrison’s internal daemons of alcohol and drug addiction visually manifest in his complex, disquieting compositions. Despite being impoverished and historically obscured, he became a source of inspiration that endures for Artists like Chris Martin, Peter Acheson and James Wright and remains an abiding influence over younger painters today. Harrison succumbed to liver failure at age 64, the full breadth of his art historical legacy yet to be realized.
This exhibition has been made possible by Schmidt's Antiques in Ypsilanti, MI, Harrison's family and art lover and writer, Darin Latimer. Latimer discovered Harrison's work at Schmidt's Antiques a few years back and knew he had found something special. "I'm definitely not an Art professional but I went back to Schmidt's and spent several days examining the work beyond the small amount they catalogued for their initial sale. I was overwhelmed... I think this may be an actual undiscovered Great American Artist and, after the tactile experience of opening folio after folio, I feel an obligation to him." - Latimer