Monday, 25 June 2012

Methadone Love III

Hello everyone,

First of all I want to thank all of you who have been in to view, and indeed champion, award-winning artist Norrie Harman's solo exhibition, 'Way Out West'.  The response we have received here at UG has been quite overwhelming and re-affirms everything that we believe in as a gallery: the support and encouragement that we gain from artists and visitors alike creates a very special and precious partnership indeed.

So I've thought long and hard about this blog: in the last one, on 'Kim Kim', I was keen to demonstrate that, although Norrie Harman's work is uncompromisingly strong and sometimes even brutal, if you open your eyes a little bit more, your discover what I believe is the most potent aspect of all - the sensitivity.  'Methadone Love III' takes this to a whole new level.

So here it is, in all its shocking glory:

'Methadone Love III', watercolour & indian ink, by Norrie Harman.
So now might be an appropriate time to stop reading if you are at all offended, but to be fair I see and hear much worse every day - just watch the news for a start!.
Again, if it's not your bag move along now before we get into any more detail.
Too late:

'Methadone Love III', detail, by Norrie Harman.

On completion of each of his works, Norrie sent us an image of the painting.  With 'Methadone Love III', he sent us only the detail below which, I am sure you will agree, is a very fine observation of the female's head:

'Methadone Love III', detail, by Norrie Harman.

I can't help wondering what it says about the art world that an artist sometimes feels the need to sensor, or edit, their work in order to get it accepted  -  to show only the 'pretty bits' to get it the wall space it deserves.  This is not the case with UG: this is a wonderful work of art that we are proud to have in the gallery.  I remember a comment made by my artist friend and contemporary, Patsy McArthur, who once said, "you can't help what comes out of you'.  Of course she was right - as an artist you go the the whole hog or not at all and that is particularly pertinent when talking about an artist with as unique a voice as Norrie Harman.

The nameless, helpless, but still beautiful woman in 'Methadone Love III' has haunted me since I first saw the work, and I think about her situation often.  On speaking to Norrie about the 'offending' artwork, he explained: 'I tried to treat it with as much sensitivity as I could.  I deliberately wasn't too graphic with her genatalia'.
In doing so, Norrie has allowed this woman to retain some dignity and, by painting her face so beautifully and in a manner only he can do, allows us to consider the painting as a whole: shocking, yes, but beautifully so.

Looking at this painting, I can't help but notice the empathy and non-judgemental stance of the artist.  In her drug induced state, her hand fumbles around searching for some affection, landing awkwardly on the head of her lover.  In spite of herself, she has at least managed to participate in some way that is remotely agreeable to her.

We know that, in the history of art, there have been great works of art that have been deemed too offensive or controversial to be seen by the public.  Once censored, or simply excluded from public display, some are now heralded as forward-thinking and enlightened comments of the time.  I believe that 'Norrie Harman's 'Methadone Love III', and his exhibition as a whole, should be seen as a 21st Century equivalent - a powerful and bold statement about the world we live in.

Speak soon. 


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