2012 by Kirsty Harris
Matt Roberts Arts as part of ALAS Summer Residency 2012; http://www.kirstyharris.com
Harris’ beautifully painted miniature paintings are part of Matt Roberts Arts first exhibition in their new space – the old Nettie Horn on Vyner Street. An eclectic mix of mediums, the exhibition is intriguing and interestingly pulled together, perhaps reflective of the creative relationship of the eighteen artists that blossomed out of their joint residency. A variance in shape, size and approach keeps us occupied; the atmosphere is playful, full of experimentation, and the works seem to bounce off of each other in discussion. Harris’ paintings are immediately noticeable; they are small and crisp, amid bold paintings of colour and mixed dilution. Hers are dark, with colour carefully painted in layers, creating a surface reflective of delicate technique and time. There is an essence of Dutch painting to her style, encouraged by the dark backgrounds or, as in one work in the exhibition, a clever perspective-creating checkerboard floor. This black and white floor is particularly successful; the squares open the painting up before us, the lines spilling over the edge of the painting, they seem to move as keys on a piano – playing in a ripple that push her protagonist towards us. Harris’ figures – as we can see in Ms Lomax – are similarly realistic, with wonderfully milky and mottled flesh that shapes their bodies atmospherically before us. The contrast is then acute with their lack of face; painted flat in one colour, unlike the rest of the body, the face is a haunting mask of non-description and ambiguity.