Art Gave Brent Harris a Way Back from Pain

In New Zealand-born Brent Harris’s surreal painting I Weep My Mother’s Breasts (1996) two identical young men shed pendulous tears that end in nipples. Magic realism comes to mind: a Diego Rivera painting or a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo. Yet Harris’ title is both numbly straightforward and startlingly vulnerable in its autobiographical declaration; the portrait of the artist as a young boy confronting himself and his past in an imaginary mirror, Ray Edgar writes for The Sydney Morning Herald.

The figurative painting is one of Harris’ most explicit images, Edgar writes. As a major retrospective and monograph of his four-decade career reveals, much of his work is ambiguous, amorphous and metaphoric. While his style has undergone dramatic shifts over the years, two central themes preoccupy him, curator Maria Zagala describes in the accompanying monograph: “his relationship to death and the psychic inheritance from his family of origin.”

“[Art] is probably cathartic,” admits the 67-year-old. “But I don’t go at it because I want to work out a problem. It’s more playful than that.”

Brent Harris: Surrender & Catch is on at TarraWarra Museum of Art, 2 December – 11 March 2024.

Original article by Ray Edgar, The Sydney Morning Herald, November 27, 2023.

Photo by Penny Stephens.

Tags: Brent Harris  painting  Sydney Morning Herald (The)  

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