ROBERT PATRICK HARRIS


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It seems I am creating memorials to the overwhelming odds we face. Oddly, I insist on painting them as beautifully as possible. Seeing my series on 5 major hurricanes, a curator remarked: “they’re so pretty.”

The content of earlier work addressed effects of pollution and environmental degradation, emphasized by placing multiple canvases in sequential/cinematic order. One even glows in the dark. Over 40 years, my stylistic approach to painting has changed from impasted cartoons to expressive realism to "who knows what I should call these"? The content of current work addresses the phenomenon of global warming.

I take an image and imagine it on a template that resembles the national flag of Greece. The ancient Greeks began what we know to be western civilization and I believe who they were is the foundation for who we are.

Here are some examples: I painted a set of clocks that represent the four time zones in the continental United States as a way to paint about the abstract concept of time and devices that keep time - the Sahara Hotel & Casino in Vegas bought one of these. Well, they don’t appear to be real clocks - they look like runes, 'divining a truth' without explaining it.

Another interesting clock is the Dooms Day Clock invented by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947. The clock is re-set annually to inform the public about threats to the survival and development of humanity from nuclear weapons, climate change and disruptive technology. I painted a work titled "Tone" in fluorescent red and yellow that does not calibrate a specific time to midnight, rather the point when considering an actual doomsday.

In a set of 5 paintings, an image of the Cyclone roller coaster on Coney Island is visible. Each painting is named after one of the more severe, recent cyclones/hurricanes in the USA: Katrina, Sandy, Irma, Harvey, and Maria. To me, weather has become a roller coaster of extreme events - less predictable and more intense. 

In a recent series of 4 paintings titled "Snow", an image of Mount Denali is painted. Half the snow is yellow, half the snow is white. As a child, my friends would say: “Don’t eat yellow snow it’s been pissed on”. What color do we want our snow to be? is a relevant question.

Current works extend this theme, painting a television test pattern with instructions to 'Please Stand By'. Upside-down birds, polar bears in the desert, migraine headaches, deer in dried-up forests and gears that don't mesh - all subjects of work in 2021. Paintings are in a number of private collections.