Jeffrey Harris

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1949

Grandparents at Okains

This icon-like work is one of twenty-four extraordinary, jewel-like paintings Jeffrey Harris made between 1974 and 1977, in which he channeled the luminous colours and spatial clarity of the fifteenth-century Italian artist known as Il Sasetta to recast his own life, and that of his family, as a kind of monumental narrative cycle. On a strangely weathered surface, the artist’s grandparents project what art critic Peter Ireland called “an oppressive solitude”. With their grimly pursed mouths and aged hands gnarled like monstrous tree roots, there’s as much holding them apart as bringing them, momentarily, together.

(Unseen: The Changing Collection, 18 December 2015 – 19 June 2016)

Read an article about Jeffrey Harris in Art New Zealand