Grotesque Beauty: The art of Anne Harris

I was introduced to the beautifully disturbing paintings of Anne Harris by one of my painting professors several years ago. Re-visiting these paintings I find myself enchanted once again by their intricate details and unsettling imagery. The paintings are both alluring and repulsive, the figures dissolving into the ground express a undeniable sense of self-consciousness. Their skin is pallid and veiny, it sags and wrinkles unpleasantly. The paint layered and softly blurred looks like a veil over the grotesque bodies. The portraits Harris paints begin with herself, she states that;

“They start with me — often — and are from me in some respect,” Harris explains, “but in the end, they become themselves. They’re portraits of the people in the paintings.” The resulting “people” are born from the artist’s discomfort.”

The portraits exude discomfiture, though details such as lace and ribbon convey a delicate beauty, one cannot ignore the weary, bloodshot eyes that peer out from the haze. A murky ground obscures parts of the body, however each woman’s vulnerability manifests in their gesture.

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Portrait (John’s Lace), oil on panel, 36 x 30 in, 2005

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Portrait (Beaded Dress),  oil on canvas, 30 x 36 in, 2000

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Portrait (2nd Angel), oil on linen, 44 x 30 in, 2007

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Invisible (blonde), oil on linen, 33 x 30 in, 2012

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Portrait (Gray Girl), oil on linen, 24 x 22 in, 2006

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Self Portait (bridal veil), oil on canvas, 18 x 18 in, 1994

{Anne Harris}

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