Alexander Harrison joins Kasmin

  • Kasmin is thrilled to announce its representation of Alexander Harrison (b. 1993, Greenville, S.C.) The gallery will present a new work on paper by the artist at Art Basel Miami Beach this week. Harrison's first solo exhibition with the gallery, Big World was mounted in New York in January 2023.

    Nicholas Olney, President of Kasmin, comments: “We’re thrilled to announce representation of Alexander Harrison, an artist who has emerged as a singular voice in American painting. Combining technical virtuosity and pictorial innovation, Harrison’s interconnected body of work reveals a storyteller’s gift for calling attention to salient details that reveal larger truths.”

    Edith Dicconson, Executive Director, adds: “On first seeing Alexander’s paintings in 2019, I was immediately captivated by their powerful command of narrative. Mining his personal histories to speak to profound universal truths, Alexander is able to bring a complex universe vividly to life.“

    Harrison’s enigmatic paintings of dreamscapes and object-symbols blend illusion and fantasy with archetypes from cultural history to render a vivid universe that is at once inviting and inaccessible. Mining his experiences growing up in Marietta, South Carolina, Harrison explores the psychic reverberations of America’s deeply entrenched racism, as well as the role of the artist and the responsibilities inherent in representation. These themes emerge in Harrison’s work through the motif of the Black cowboy, a persona partially based on the artist’s own grandfather. This character recurs as both a proxy for the artistic figure and for the manner in which Black masculinity has historically been stereotyped in popular culture, where representations have routinely lacked nuance. Harrison’s cowboy exists in riposte to these fallacies, offering instead a hero that emanates self-determination, philosophical depth, and sovereignty over his land. Even when the cowboy is absent from Harrison’s compositions, his searching gaze is implied by the perspective of the scenes depicted, allowing us to catch glimpses of his onward journey.

    The artist’s use of distinctive framing strategies, realized primarily through the use of trompe l’oeil, allow lifelike materials such as clapboard window frames and the bare stone walls of prison cells to determine the picture plane. Playing with depth and perspective, Harrison sets up these paintings as portals into a world of elusive narratives brimming with searching, loneliness, and entrapment.

    Harrison engages with a history of surrealism and the supernatural. The artist returns repeatedly to symbols loaded with art historical and religious folklore, such as the apple and the moon, as well as those co-opted by racist caricature, such as the watermelon. Appearing across his oeuvre, these motifs create an immersive universe, heightening the uncanny dissonance one feels when observing a whole rendered in fragments. Memento moris appear in the form of flowers, heavy-headed and drooping with melancholic candor in the moonlight. Working directly from an inner consciousness, Harrison brings myriad metaphysical references into his compositions, loading the work with an ineffable talismanic quality especially present in the artist’s intimately-scaled work. 

    Through the painstaking application of layers of acrylic on panel, Harrison conceptualizes the contrast between light and shadow, a tactic employed by the painters of the Italian Renaissance. Rarely depicting direct light, the artist favors the reflections occasioned by the surfaces of his symbolist images, including the moon and a glowing cobweb, or in one instance, an emotionally-charged close-up of an eye looking out at the viewer.

    Harrison studied at The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD. He has held solo exhibitions at Various Small Fires, Los Angeles, CA; Fisher Parrish Gallery, Brooklyn, NY and NADA Miami, FL. Harrison has been in group exhibitions at Hesse Flatow, New York, NY; Richard Heller, Los Angeles, CA; 0.0 LA, Los Angeles, CA; Hotel Art Pavilion, Brooklyn, NY; Fisher Parrish Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Smoke the Moon, Los Angeles, CA.

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