Henrietta Harris, is a New Zealand based artist who explores, the human condition, through a muted, soft and weightless palette. The faces in her paintings are often of young subjects, with gleaming eyes, filled with a sense of hope and confusion. As a result her paintings, as physical objects breathe life, conveying all the vulnerabilities and truths that are deeply obvious in each frozen face that she has left for us to explore.
Consistent throughout her body of work, including those in her newest solo exhibition Second Best Henrietta’s style and mission as a painter is that of a story teller. Documenting and distorted faces and personalities are of particular curiosity to her mission. In her own words: my paintings represent a stream of consciousness.
We had the opportunity to ask the talented painter about her work. We discussed her subject matter and inspirations. Her upcoming show "Second Best" will open November 9th at Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami. Don't miss the opportunity to see the work first hand.
SHOW: SECOND BEST
November 9 - November 20
Robert Fontaine Gallery
2750 N.W. 3rd Avenue Unit 22
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST MEMORY OF ART?
Painting a police officer and police dog when I was 4 or 5. Not sure why I chose that subject matter!
You decided on the human face as your subject matter? Why is that?
Because I can’t imagine ever getting bored of experimenting with portraiture- also my last solo show was all landscape and abstract clouds so I was ready to go back to portraiture after that.
Your work consists of distorted faces and at times you cover the face with strokes of paint. Why do you create these images and what are you looking to communicate with your work?
The aim is always to invoke emotion through painting the human face or body, to put it simply. I like to create dreamscapes, or stills from possible movies, universal stories, things like that.
Who are some artists that have influenced your work and you admire?
Michaël Borremans is a huge influence, as are Lucian Freud, Rita Angus, Areez Katki, Gavin Hurley, Kaye Donachie, Toyin Ojih Odutola- I also recently discovered an artist called Colleen Barry on instagram who is amazing. And most of the artists at Robert Fontaine Gallery of course.
Picasso once said you have to work to find inspiration. How do you go about finding inspiration to create?
I read a lot, I try to see art in real life as much as possible- I do think you have to work at it, that’s true, but I don’t really struggle to find it- I’ve always found this question hard to answer. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment inspiration hits. It’s more gradual than that.
If you could have a conversation with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Hilma af Klint- we don’t share any of the same spiritual beliefs but her paintings are absolutely fascinating and beautiful. I wish I could have seen the Guggenheim retrospective last year.
What was the last thing you saw that really inspired you to create?
My friend Cindy’s jewelry- she’s been giving me tips and I’ve been making silver rings as presents for people. It’s super fun.
Many of our readers are artists themselves, what’s one piece of advice you’d give them?
Work on sketchbooks!
What music are you listening to these days?
Lontalius, Sparks, Pulp, Aldous Harding, Tyler the Creator, P.M. Dawn, Bad Brains, Etta James, heaps of stuff!
When we visit New Zealand, what do we need to see, eat, and drink?
See- Melanie Roger Gallery, Eat- Coffee Pen, Drink (and eat)- Peach Pit
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Images by: Robert Fontaine Gallery
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