|Detail of Crouching Tiger Monastery I (2011) by Kenny Harris|
Each place has a presence, a spirit built up over the ages, formed by the experiences and events that have occurred therein. It is a goal of architectural painters to discern the soul of the structure and express it with clarity, using only the setting and space.
This is the approach taken by Kenny Harris in his exhibition "China" at Koplin Del Rio Gallery, which runs until February 18. Inspired during a recent trip, this show attempts to capture the unique nature of the various locales visited, from the posh colonial "Peace Hotel Shanghai" to the tranquil spirituality of the "Crouching Tiger Monastery" series. Through the nuances of light and space, along the lines of perspective, the enduring character of each place is revealed.
Although there are no people within these works, leaving the places to speak for themselves, without the clutter and bustle of habitation, the imprint of humanity is visible in each piece.
|Detail of Zhouzhuang (2011) by Kenny Harris|
Like classic images from the Dutch Golden Age of art, Harris explores the conceptual dichotomy between indoors and outdoors, where the delineations contrast and where they overlap. These images make one consider the emotional significances existing within such spaces, as well as the liminal or transgressive aspects of going from one type to the other, especially as it pertains to sacred or elite grounds, such as a monastery or the Forbidden City.
And the technique is awesome. The exhibition includes many studies that went into the design of each piece, giving a fascinating look into the artist's compositional and creative process. The end results are masterful illusions of place, inviting the viewer to imagine stepping inside, encouraging the viewer to visualize the image as an actual place.
|Detail of Hall of Supreme Harmony, Forbidden City (2011) by Kenny Harris|
In any case, this is a wonderful show. It will be running at Koplin Del Rio until February 18. I highly recommend going to see it for yourself.