Justin Clemens © François Farellacci, Helen Hughes © Lam Zi Yun, Maria Zagala © Sven Kovac, Brent Harris @ Saul Steed

Forming/Transforming: The Art of Brent Harris

Sunday 11 February 2024 - Sunday 11 February 2024

To coincide with Brent Harris: Surrender & Catch, curated by Maria Zagala and co-presented with the Art Gallery of South Australia, an afternoon of talks exploring the works of Brent Harris will be held at TarraWarra Museum of Art.

The event will comprise of presentations by Dr Justin Clemens and Dr Helen Hughes and an in-conversation between Brent Harris and the exhibition curator, Maria Zagala.

 Brent Harris, Grotesquerie 2008, Melbourne, oil on linen, diptych, 191.0 x 127.0 cm (each panel). Gift of the Art Gallery of South Australia Contemporary Collectors 2008. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide © Brent Harris.

The talks will explore various aspects of the artist’s singular practice, from his referencing of Biblical narratives to tell his own story, to exploring the motivating impulse behind his citation of artistic sources in his work and his use of automatic drawing to access unconscious imagery. The speakers will consider the dynamic of ‘forming/transforming’ in Harris’s return to subjects and motifs across media and over decades.

The in-conversation will be followed by a short Q&A with the audience and refreshments courtesy of our sponsors.

Entry to the exhibition is included in your forum ticket.

Sunday 11 Feb 3-4:30pm

* Note the talks will take place in our main gallery, which will be closed to the general public from 3pm on this date. Your ticket includes exhibition entry, talks and light refreshments at 4:30pm.

About the speakers

Dr Justin Clemens investigates the rich seam of religious iconography in Harris’s work from The Stations, 1989 and 2020, to depictions of Abraham and Mary Magdalene. His paper considers how, across Harris’s oeuvre, he has consistently drawn upon forms from the history of European art which are not only explicitly illustrative of Biblical figures and events but which further contribute to the interpretation of such figures and events.

Dr Helen Hughes considers the way in which appropriation or citation of other artists’ work is a prominent aspect of Brent Harris’s practice. Although Harris began exhibiting work in Melbourne in the wake of its postmodern moment in the early 1980s – a moment closely associated with Art & Text journal – Harris’s work conveys nothing of the cool irony of so much of this type of postmodern appropriation. What then is the nature of Harris’s appropriation? Helen Hughes attempts to answer this question by drawing on Renaissance art historians Alexander Nagel and Christopher S. Wood’s important book Anachronic Renaissance (2010), which examines the roles of repetition, copying and appropriation in religious art during the Renaissance.

Artist Brent Harris and curator Maria Zagala’s in-conversation focuses on the artist’s interest in subconscious imagery in the making of his work and the role of automatic drawing in the development of his psychologically driven imagery. They will consider how Harris’s methodology has evolved over time to encompass, in recent years, a spontaneous ‘surrender and catch’ approach, as well as the themes to which he has persistently returned: his relationship to death, or ‘the other side’, and memories stored in the body.



Related exhibition

Brent Harris: Surrender & Catch

  • Past Exhibitions
  • 2 December 2023 - 11 March 2024
This exhibition, curated by Maria Zagala, explores the work of senior contemporary Australian artist Brent Harris. Moving between figuration and abstraction, Harris deploys both humour and the grotesque to examine psychological subject matter and visualise his complex and contradictory feelings. Indeed, the exhibition title refers to Harris’ interest in sociologist Kurt H. Wolff’s notion of […]
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