As part of our endeavor to share tidbits of inspiration with you, we’re going to be highlighting some of the artists and designers we run across — either here in San Francisco or on our travels. We hope you enjoy those we showcase and will consider supporting their work. Be sure to follow their social media accounts and check out their sites, as well. Better yet, we hope you feel inspired to do that thing you love and share it with the world!
One of our favorite things to do, and it never fails to inspire us, is to visit the galleries at Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco’s Dogpatch district. Last month, we stopped by to check out Brian Harte: This domestic life.
First, from the exhibition at Minnesota Street Project:Harte’s paintings are not still lifes in the traditional sense, nor are they portraits, though there are correlations. Typically, the paintings do not crop directly to a subject, and their figures are too rooted in place to be distinguished from it. If they are portraits, they are portraits of the home with its occupants. Specific objects appear within the composition like in a vanitas painting, and Harte is aware of the art historical references that he makes with their placement, but the functions of these symbolic objects are ambiguous. The backgrounds of the paintings are not stark, but they are airy — compared to traditional still lifes or portraits, which direct your vision through their intimate treatment of the subject, Harte’s paintings offer a view of domestic space with a particular brand of distance that reads as realism despite its abstractions.
For me, his imagery seems to be ideas expressed in their natural immediacy. Quickly presented on canvas and as quickly as they might appear in one’s mind, they are overwritten by the next thought — over painted and scribbled into a jumble of memories and meanings. We are left to wander through these rooms, piecing together the various objects and the context with which he has presented them.
I’m especially drawn to the layered ideas present in his work; what I read as perhaps an inner monologue or second-guessing. Take for instance this bit of type, which reads, “marry me”. Then a slash and it becomes don’t marry me.The type, juxtaposed next to a boot and a bit of impasto paint, seems to be a child’s scrawl on the living room wall.
These are large, layered works worth every moment it takes to explore them, to untangle them, and to sit in the home of this exquisite painter.
Do visit Brian’s site (click on his name to reveal the site navigation) and follow him on Instagram. And if you like these sort of mini-reviews and inspirational visual candy, please let us know! You can also subscribe to our newsletter, which you can do on our site, and follow Hooray Sock Co. across the web—We’re @hooraysocks.