A HIP ARTIST, HER NATURALISTIC PORTRAITS WITH A SURREALISTIC TWIST: INTERVIEW WITH HENRIETTA HARRIS

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1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and where you got your art education? What inspired you to become an artist ? 

I went to an Art School here in New Zealand but did not really do too much painting and drawing, or not like I do now. It was a good experience but not really for me. I taught myself how to use watercolors once I graduated and I am teaching myself how to paint with oils at the moment.

" I became an artist because, like most artists, it’s all I think about and there is nothing else for me to do!"

2. Your signature style is hand-drawn hands, faces, brains and glaciers that float away from each other, reminding us of the moments when the body is present but the mind drifts away. What initially inspired this viewpoint ? 

They are all different viewpoints but the images of the floaty faces emerged from me wanting to mix representational art with abstract art in order to give a simple portrait a bit more psychedelia, I suppose.

My practice is pretty much just about fucking with portraiture in different ways. I lost interest in the warped faces but still explore other aspects of this.

3. Who are the subjects of your portraits and how do you choose them ? 

They are friends, friends of friends, and people off the Internet.

" I just know if I want to paint someone! I can’t explain it. "

4. What is unique about your technique ? 

I am not sure! I am not really aware of other people’s techniques. I flounder until it looks ok.

5. You work has a surrealist edge. Is there a specific artist or artists that inspired you? 

Yes, heaps! Not too many surrealist painters in the traditional sense but I love artists like Michaël Borremans, Elizabeth Peyton, Lucian Freud and Vilhelm Hammershøi…. all those obvious ones, but I don’t look too closely at artists who are doing similar things to me as I start new work. Although similarities are inevitable I think. 

6. If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, be it a person, a brand or a company, who would it be ? 

I did collaborate with Unknown Mortal Orchestra which was a dream, and I am going to work with another dream client before the year is out - I’m pretty content to be honest! 

7. If your work has a soundtrack, which songs would be on it ? 

These New Puritans, ABBA, David Bowie, Silver Apples, Lontalius, Pulp, Harald Grosskoft, Chance The Rapper, Blood Orange…. so much!

HENRIETTA HARRIS

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