It’s Friday once again, which means both Heirloom & Knot and I are very happy to share with you the latest instalment in our ongoing Art Fair Fridays series, where we bring you weekly design inspiration and exclusive interviews with the talented artists that inspire our creativity on a daily basis.
Today, we’re so excited to share with you the incredible oil works of Gabryel Harrison. His romantic florals are both joyful and melancholy and speak to the artist’s love for both once what was and what will be. Harrison’s paintings are feminine, ethereal and laced with a touch of sadness. They’re pretty but not at all saccharine…strong in their hauntingly perfect moodiness.
How long would you say you have been a professional artist and what has lead you to this point in your career?
I have been a professional artist for 15 years.I have been led by an unremitting flame, sometimes small and wavering, often assailed by inner winds of doubt, at other times burning bright and steady with a clarity that guides and illumines my choice. Commitment to the practice of painting is like any singular devotion, I am brought closer and closer to a felt inner knowing of my place in the world, all the while polishing off the extraneous edges. Crafting a career has been much like the unfolding of a painting. Each mark I lay down causes a resonance to occur throughout the field of the work. The mark may be a failure, yet each succeeding mark is a responsive act that leads eventually to the resolution of greatest harmony, where all the elements sing.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received about your art ?
Many years ago when my deepest engagement with art-making was in the effort to write poems, I met a well known writer who simply said “keep writing”. One can study philosophy, read others, look at the great painters of our time or of history, but in the end to paint well, one must paint. The necessity is long hours of solitary work in the
studio, brush in hand. Before art making, if there was such a time for me, I still hear the words of my parents. Do what you believe in. Do the best you can.
How would you describe your creative process?
My creative process is fumbling in the dark, listening to dreams, meandering yet simultaneously disciplined. I enter the studio every day with an intention to risk, to open to the unknown. I study the testimony of others who have gone before me, their writings, their paintings, the evidence of their investigations. I walk in the world with eyes wide open. I study my own heart. I meditate. Ideas live here, unfettered by our defence mechanisms. Morandi looked at the same bottles all his life, I try and look as he did, to be startled by the flowers before me into something fresh, something beyond the arrangement of petals, in the process of looking and painting to touch a fragment of the new.
What is your favourite medium to work in?
My favourite medium to work in is oil paint. I love the smell, the viscosity, the buttery richness of textures and color, the endless ability to glaze and form transparencies, to drip and fling, caress and scrape oil paint.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
I can think of more than one career highlight that illustrate very different feelings of encouragement along the way. Firstly, I am in the gratitude that the sale of my paintings have been able to contribute funds to various worthy charity auctions. In one such event my painting was highly contested in a bidding war that caused great excitement in the room, going well above all expectations and raising much money for the cause. This led to an interview with a well known Vancouver television personality. I have also had the pleasure of attending another such auction where i was able to benefit the renowned Canadian men’s choir Chor Leoni and to hear their special guest soprano Laura Widgett singing arias from Verdi and Puccini barely an arms length away.
On another note entirely, I was once commissioned to create a painting that contained a portion of the ashes of my client’s mother. In a very ceremonial way i mixed, at his request, these traces of her body into the paint that became the embodiment of her favourite roses. This task entrusted to me felt like a sacred act, an honouring of life that was a great gift, a definite pinnacle in my journey.
How would you describe your signature style?
Emotional, lush and darkly evocative, romantic with traces of melancholy.
Where do you find your greatest creative inspiration?
Nature. Nature and all the myriad ways others have made art from nature. I am inspired by the beautifully realized visions of other painters, writers, poets, the renderers of architecture, forms of fashion, the melancholy of autumn, the way plants always find the light and the inevitable dying of the day.
What do you think sets your work apart from other artists?
I think what sets my work apart from other artists is the sense of the past, a felt echo of vanitas painters brought forward in a contemporary way. I like to show the flowers in all stages of their life cycle, not just in their prime but in the beauty and integrity of each passage of life. I think somewhere perhaps we might all feel a bit between worlds, caught between ancestral memory and the present moving so rapidly we are almost foreigners in our own time.
No. 1 Top Shop – Colourblock Faux Fur Stole – £32.00
No. 2 Dolce & Gabbana – Metallic Textured Leather-Trimmed Wood Clutch – $8,071.00
No. 3 One Kings Lane – Harper Linen Bergère, Cerise – $1,649.00
No. 4 Kate Spade – Stripes Ornament – $30.00
No. 5 Saks Fifth Avenue – Diamond-Pattern Glitter Glass Ornament – $42.57
No. 6 Bergdorf Goodman – Sapin Scented Candle – $70.00
No. 7 Pier One – Velvet Amaryllis Wreath – $69.95
No. 8 H&M Home – Velvet cushion cover – $12.99
Romance with a dash of haunting sadness is maybe my favourite art tone of all and Harrison captures it every so perfectly. I’m obsessed.
Here are my 5…
The deep burgundy mixed with flashes of neon pink…be still my heart.